SeaWorld Orlando is starting off 2014 with Wild Days, a series of weekend events that highlight the park’s animal conservation and rehabilitation efforts. SeaWorld extended us an invitation to experience their opening weekend of Wild Days that featured numerous animal trainers and wildlife experts including Jack Hanna. Our day began with a behind the scenes tour that included a close-up encounter with a pair of sea turtles that required rehabilitation. One sea turtle was missing the bottom half of its jaw while the other was blind making it incredibly difficult for the animals to care for themselves. Part of our tour also included meeting manatees that had suffered from cold stress. Our tour guide informed us that SeaWorld rehabilitates and if possible, releases animals like these back into the wild. Some animals, such as the aforementioned sea turtles, cannot care for themselves and thus remain in the care of the staff at SeaWorld.
The next stop on our tour was the Dolphin Theater, home to Blue Horizons, a theatrical show featuring pilot whales who are members of the dolphin family. The show features acrobatic performances from both humans and animals alike. Performers in vibrant costumes soar high above the audience as the pilot whales leap out of the water to ‘oooh’s and ‘aaah’s from the crowd. The show emphasizes SeaWorld’s rehabilitation efforts via first-hand accounts from an animal trainer. The trainer shared with the audience that the government deemed these whales unreleasable and contacted SeaWorld to ask if they could care for these animals.
The centerpiece to the opening Wild Days event was the Jack Hanna Show. The wildlife expert, who can often be seen on nationally televised late night shows, lived up to his reputation by showcasing several different animal species keeping audience members thoroughly engaged. While animals such as a warthog and cheetah proved popular among the audience, no animal received the kind of attention given to the extremely rare snow leopard with its beautiful white coat. Guests can stick around after the show to not only meet Jack Hanna but also obtain an autograph.
While SeaWorld features numerous different animal species, killer whales remain its most iconic creatures. However, the stadium that normally hosts regular Shamu shows is undergoing routine maintenance. In its place SeaWorld offers Shamu Up Close, a unique opportunity for guests to see the whales much closer than usual including an area for underwater viewing. Additionally, kids can take advantage of education stations both here and in Antarctica to learn more about their favorite animals.
SeaWorld Wild Days continues January 18-19 featuring stories shown on the nationally televised show Sea Rescue and January 25-26 featuring SeaWorld Animal Ambassador Julie Scardina. Guests who have a SeaWorld Fun Card can enjoy unlimited admission throughout 2014 including of course both upcoming Wild Days weekends. Additionally, anyone considering attending this inaugural event should know that on event days only, guests can buy one SeaWorld Fun Card and get one free so long as they bring a recyclable Coca-Cola beverage can or bottle! What a great deal, isn’t it? For more information, visit SeaWorld Orlando Wild Days to learn about the event and Fun Card promotion.
Disclosure: We were provided complimentary admission to SeaWorld Orlando in order to experience Wild Days. All thoughts and opinions are our own.
All photos © Ricardo Escobar for modernmami™