SeaWorld San Diego
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500 SeaWorld Dr · interesting places nearby
SeaWorld San Diego information
SeaWorld opened in San Diego in 1964 and for years has been one of California’s most popular theme parks. Many visitors spend the whole day here, shuttling between aquatic-themed rides, animal encounters and exhibits. However, the park’s best-known attraction is also its most controversial: live shows featuring trained dolphins, sea lions and killer whales. Since the release of the 2013 documentary Blackfish, SeaWorld’s treatment of its captive orcas has come under intense scrutiny and the company has been hit by falling visitor numbers and a catalogue of negative PR.
The film is a damning portrayal of the effects of keeping killer whales in captivity and charts the life of Tilikum, an orca at SeaWorld Orlando that was involved in the deaths of three people, including one of its trainers during a live show. Since its release many animal welfare groups have come out in support of the film arguing that it is harmful and stressful to keep such sensitive, complex creatures inside an enclosed tank. A bill in the California state legislature in 2014 proposed to do away with killer whale shows; it was sent back for further study. SeaWorld have issued a statement accusing the film makers of giving false and misleading information and has since made plans to double the size of its orca tanks. Whether this effort stems the tide of public criticism seems unlikely.
Other animal enclosures inside SeaWorld include Penguin Encounter where several penguin species share a habitat that simulates Antarctic living conditions; and Shark Encounter which offers the chance to see different species of shark as you walk through a 57ft acrylic tunnel. There are also amusement-park-style rides available.