A Message from Jim Atchison, President of SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment™
Killer whales are one of the most majestic animals on the planet and, because millions of people can see them up close every year, they also are one of the most beloved. With 28 whales, we are privileged to have the largest group of killer whales in human care and also provide pioneering contributions to their well-being. SeaWorld® was the first zoological organization to successfully breed killer whales and has contributed to numerous scientific studies over the past five decades. Read more on these incredible animals in this special killer whale edition of SEAmail.
Voices of SeaWorld
How do our veterinarians and trainers work together to care for killer whales? In the new “Voices of SeaWorld” series, hear directly from experts whose work and passion illustrates SeaWorld’s commitment to animal welfare. More than 60 zoological professionals across the U.S. – trainers, keepers, veterinarians, scientists, rescue experts, conservationists and educators – were interviewed. Watch.
Killer Whale Research and Conservation
SeaWorld provides a unique opportunity to examine killer whales up close. Affiliated biologists study SeaWorld killer whales to improve our understanding of dolphin and whale hearing, communication, social interaction, nutrition, and health. On-going research in all three parks is determining exactly what whales hear. This kind of detailed science can only happen at a facility like SeaWorld and the results are important for understanding (and mitigating) the impact of ocean sounds on these animals in the wild. See killer whale studies here. Learn more.
How Do You Train a Killer Whale?
Keeping it positive both above and below the water is the cornerstone of training at SeaWorld. Only positive reinforcement is used in all of the whales’ training. The reinforcement varies every day to keep the animals engaged and appeal to their different preferences. Some prefer a massage while others like discs to play with. Not only does the training process create a trusting relationship between the whales and trainers, it also enhances the level of care provided by our veterinarians. The whales’ training allows them to voluntarily participate in medical procedures such as offering up flukes for a blood draw. Learn more.
What does SeaWorld use keep these extraordinary animals engaged mentally, physically and socially? What might look like a play toy to us is known as an Environmental Enrichment Device (EED). Enrichment increases the whales’ activity level and adds choice and control to their environment. The SeaWorld trainers continually create new and unique EED’s. A few of the devices provided throughout the day include giant balls and discs, ice and even gelatin molds. Some EEDs the whales can trigger themselves such as water sprayers. Learn more.
Whale of a Baby!
Did you know that SeaWorld cares for the largest killer whale population in human care worldwide? Our newest addition is a male calf born at SeaWorld San Diego in 2013. Named Makani which is Hawaiian for “wind,” the 8-month-old calf is doing great. He socializes with the other whales including his brother, Nakia, and sister, Kalia. Makani is part of a successful breeding program that began in 1985. Learn more.
Killer Whale-to-Kid Communication
SeaWorld inspires millions to connect with the natural world. This connection was clearly evident when two-year-old park guest Jasmine C. met killer whales Tilikum and Trua at SeaWorld Orlando. In this short, candid video, Jasmine and the whales seemed equally fascinated with one another. Enjoy and share – it’s sure to make you smile! Learn more.