June 20, 2016
SeaWorld addresses sanctuaries at its shareholder meeting
Though it was a meeting aimed at investors, several questions at Wednesday’s SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. shareholder meeting were focused on animals, rather than financial performance.
A couple of those questions mentioned the National Aquarium in Baltimore‘s recently announced plans to build a seaside sanctuary for its Atlantic bottlenose dolphins by 2020.
The aquarium says it is scouting locations in Florida and the Caribbean and is soliciting donations. One of its dolphins, Jade, was born at SeaWorld in 1999 and transported to the National Aquarium in 2006.
“We have the utmost respect for the National Aquarium,” Chief Executive Officer Joel Manby said. “We certainly know they’re going to take into account what we think are some health challenges of taking dolphins born and raised in an aquarium and placing them in an unfamiliar ocean environment, but having said that, we know they intend to pursue this experiment in a very mindful way and to monitor the health of their dolphins as they move them.”
Another inquiry about seaside sanctuaries was from, in Manby’s words, “our friends at PETA.” Actress Gillian Anderson submitted a question on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, a longtime SeaWorld critic, asking when the company would retire its orcas to sea sanctuaries.
“Could it be done to move whales to sea cages? Yeah, it technically possibly could be done,” Manby said. “But is it the safest thing for our animals? We do not believe it is.”
The shareholder meeting was online only. Questions were addressed but not read aloud in their entirety.
There were questions about collapsed dorsal fins on killer whales, the health status of the killer whale Tilikum, and what attendance changes there have been since SeaWorld announced in March it would end its orca breeding.
It’s too soon to measure change, Manby said. . . .
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