Our Legacy of Animal Rescue

1963 Hubbs–SeaWorld® Research Institute opens with a commitment “to return to the sea some measure of the benefits derived from it.”

1964 SeaWorld opens in San Diego, Calif., where our first animal rescue team is formed.

1976 SeaWorld Orlando rescues its first manatee.

1980 First bottle-raised orphaned manatee, Marina is rescued, successfully rehabilitated, and released.

1989 5,000-pound Bryde’s whale is rehabilitated after around-the-clock care and returned to the wild.

1997 JJ, an orphaned gray whale calf, begins her 14-month rehabilitation. She is the largest rescued animal ever returned to the wild.

2000 SeaWorld helps save more than 20,000 oiled penguins and nearly 700 orphaned penguin chicks affected by the Treasure oil spill in South Africa. The same year the SeaWorld Oiled Wildlife Care Center, a public-private partnership for environmental stewardship, is formed.

2003 The SeaWorld & Busch Gardens® Conservation Fund is established. The Fund has since granted more than $11 million to projects around the world.

2005 After Hurricane Katrina, SeaWorld rescues 14 injured or displaced sea lions.

2010 More than 300 cold-stunned, endangered sea turtles are rehabilitated after suffering the effects of record-setting cold—one of the largest rescue events in SeaWorld history.

2010 SeaWorld Animal Rescue Team assists wildlife affected by the BP oil spill, including more than 100 endangered sea turtles.

2011 SeaWorld Animal Rescue Team helps rescue and care for a large group of pilot whales that had beached just north of Key West, Fla. Two of the surviving whales were returned to the open ocean. SeaWorld is providing a permanent home for one of the other survivors.

2012 Around Valentine's Day, SeaWorld San Diego team rescued a young sea lion with a severe bullet wound to her flipper. They named the sea lion Valentine, removed the bullet and brought her back to health. Valentine was then successfully returned to the ocean.

2013 After a mass stranding event in St. Lucie county, Fla. in 2012, SeaWorld Orlando successfully rehabilitates three young pilot whales.

2014 SeaWorld helps rescue over 1,000 animals this year, including an entangled humpback whale and even a pregnant shark.

2015 SeaWorld surpasses 26,000 rescues and celebrates the 50th anniversary of giving animals in need a second chance at life.

2016 SeaWorld surpasses 28,000 rescues including a higher than normal number of sea lion strandings.

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Research Helps Wild Whales