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“You say #Blackfish lied about you blaming Dawn… Why?

SeaWorld staff never blamed Ms. Brancheau. She was our colleague and we mourn her loss to this day. You can find records of official evidence from court proceedings in our Blackfish Analysis, No.65, Evidence: 2, pg 2.

As reported in 2014 by The Orlando Sentinel:

“SeaWorld, for its part, said unequivocally Friday that Brancheau bore no blame.
‘Dawn was one of the world’s most skilled and experienced marine mammal trainers. Her dedication to safety was among the many reasons she was so respected by her colleagues at SeaWorld and within the worldwide animal training community,’ the company said in a written statement. ‘We have never said and do not believe that she was at fault for the events of February 24, 2010.’”

“I was also wondering if SeaWorld was still planning on importing Kirara from Japan. The Pacific White Sided Dolphin that is.”

We have a permit to import a Pacific white-sided dolphin named Kirara from Japan, but no plans to do so at this time. Kirara was born at Kamogawa Sea World in Japan in 2006 and has lived there since. Her parents were rescued – not part of a drive fishery – and have lived in an aquarium under human care since 1994.

“I have a question, why do you guys use only government sourced information verses facts concluded by local/reliable researchers?”

Thank you for your inquiry. We use, and in fact contribute to, a variety of scientific and other professional resources.

For example, we are referencing information from many sources as we develop the Blue World Project, including peer-reviewed scientific literature, independent scientific experts on the advisory panel and our own internal knowledge-base.

Our animal database,, uses dozens of sources as reference — primarily peer-reviewed literature authored by different subject matter experts, including private, academic, and government-affiliated researchers and organizations.

In virtually every case involving animal care and/or communication, our approach is to pull information from multiple, proven, and science-based sources.

Click here for more on SeaWorld’s involvement in peer-reviewed research.

“If Female Orcas are naturally suppose to breed at 14.9 years why are there orcas giving birth and breeding as young as 8-10.”

The earliest known killer whale birth in the wild was observed to a female that was nine years old, which would indicate conception (breeding) at age seven. More than a dozen killer whales between the ages of 9 to 13 have given birth to calves in an observed group of resident whales in the Pacific Northwest. Peer reviewed research recently published in the Journal of Mammalogy covers this subject in greater detail.

The majority of our animals are from the North Atlantic group of killer whales, which appear to become reproductively mature earlier than resident killer whales of the Pacific Northwest.

All killer whales have a physiologic mechanism, just as humans and other animals do, which determines when they are ready to become pregnant. Simply put, they cannot breed if they are not ready. Click here to read more.

“Will you guys allow the killer whales to “hunt” in the new habitat. I feel like allowing them to experience chasing and catching prey is a good source of enrichment away from training. Instead of feeding them frozen fish you could release some live ones and get them interested in them. If not this, is there other enrichment ideas you all have come up with for the orcas in their new environment that is with out trainers?”

We may. In fact, we have provided live fish as enrichment in the past. Live salmon, and trout have been provided at times to the whales, as well as polar bears and seals. This, along with many other techniques and technologies are being considered and will be included in the new habitat. It is important to note, however, that the trainers themselves are enriching to the whales too. Through their expert care and attention, the whales are taught a continually growing list of behaviors. This leads to both mental and physical development, both of which are important to the whales. Ultimately, hunting or foraging is about problem solving and the whales using their minds and bodies to achieve a goal: eating. Our whales do that every day, both by working with their trainers and by testing the enrichment toys and puzzles we introduce. We have used this approach for years with the whales, and Blue World represents our next effort to up the challenge.

Click here to learn more about why we feed our killer whales high quality seafood caught specifically for places like SeaWorld, so we can always maintain the highest standards and watch this to learn more about our care:

“Where do the sea lions come from? Are they rescues?”

The sea lion population in our three SeaWorld parks – a total of 133 animals – is a combination of animals born at a park, or were rescued and deemed non-releasable and in need of a permanent home.

One example of non-releasable sea lions is a group from the area around the Bonneville Dam between Oregon and Washington. These animals were classified as nuisance animals by the federal government because they were eating too many protected salmon in a particularly sensitive location, and would have been euthanized without our intervention.

“What is your oldest animal in care?”

Our best estimates point to two animals that are tied for oldest, both reptiles: Bruce, a sea turtle at SeaWorld San Diego, and Bubba, a tortoise at Busch Gardens Tampa.

Bruce is a green sea turtle estimated to be between 70-80 years old. He was initially rescued in February 2011 in San Diego Bay dehydrated and weighing only 250 pounds. Bruce also was suffering from gunshot wounds in his neck, lacerations and a crack in the underside of his shell. He was returned to the Bay in October 2011 after several months of rehabilitation at SeaWorld San Diego’s Animal Rescue Center having gained 50 pounds. In January 2012, Bruce was again rescued, near death, entangled in fishing line. It was ultimately determined by National Marine Fisheries Service that Bruce was no longer able to live on his own in the wild, and that his best chance of survival was in long-term human care. SeaWorld was happy to provide a home for Bruce in our 280,000-gallon Turtle Reef exhibit. In our care, Bruce lives a thriving life and has become one of the park guests’ favorite animals.

Bruce the Green Sea Turtle

Bubba, an Aldabra tortoise, is estimated to be 65 years old. He has been a part of the Busch Gardens Tampa family since 1965, which has given our guests plenty of time to get to know him, and currently lives at the park with 5 other Aldabra tortoises. Weighing approximately 600 pounds, Bubba loves to eat sweet potatoes and wallow in mud, enjoys climbing over the rocks in his habitat and even loves to be “hosed off” when the animal care team cleans his habitat.


The Aldabra tortoise is one of the longest-lived animals on earth, if not the longest. No one knows exactly how long these animals are capable of living, but they are believed to easily surpass 100 years. So far, the tortoises studied have outlived the scientists studying them.


“how many dolphins have you successfully rehabilitated and released? How many end up being ‘unreleasable’ and end up in shows?”

By the time a dolphin or whale has beached itself or is injured and in need of rescue, it is usually in very bad shape; most do not survive. Of the animals we take into our care, only a small number can be successfully rehabilitated and an even smaller number are deemed non-releasable by the federal government. Out of 486 cetaceans we’ve been called upon to help rescue, nine have been deemed non-releasable by NOAA Fisheries: five bottlenose dolphins and four pilot whales.

How does SeaWorld celebrate a killer whale’s birthday?

Watch how SeaWorld San Diego celebrated Ikaika’s 13th birthday with a special ice and gelatin “cake” in this video:

Also, click here to read how SeaWorld Orlando celebrated a birthday of sorts that remembered the day three pilot whales were rescued.


“just like beluga whales do killer whales aka orcas sing?”

“In terrestrial birds, song-like vocalizations are used to defend territory and attract mates. The term “singing” is used to describe them. For highly social toothed whales like killer whales, sperm, pilot, and beluga whales, we still know little about the function of many of their vocalizations. While often bird-like, we can’t call the complex twittering vocalization of beluga whales (often called “Canaries of the Sea”) a “song.” Some of their more complex sounds indicate both individual identity and group membership, but we still can’t assign a function to most of the others.

The same is true of killer whales (Orcinus orca.) We know some of their more complex vocalizations indicate group membership and probably individual identity, and some types of sounds are associated with excited social activity. We also know they echolocate under some circumstances for navigation and hunting.

To humans, the vocalizations of beluga whales and killer whales may at times sound like the animals are singing, but in actuality, they are communicating with each other (expressing something about their state or identity, that they’re excited, or trying to get another animal to do something).

This has long been a fascinating area of study for me and we still have a lot of research to do better understand how these amazing animals communicate.”

– Dr. Anne Bowles, a senior research scientist at the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research institute who has been conducting bioacoustics research with killer whales for nearly 30 years.

Watch this video to see Makani “The Chatterbox” vocalize with his trainers at SeaWorld San Diego: