SeaWorld Orlando (SWO) Discussion Thread

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Re: SeaWorld Orlando Discussion Thread

Postby jedimaster1227 » Thu Mar 11, 2010 6:22 pm

SeaWorld Orlando has sent us a press release about their 11th manatee rescue this year.

SeaWorld Orlando’s Animal Rescue Team rescues a young female manatee today from a canal near Satellite Beach, Fla. This was the park’s 11th cold-stress manatee rescue this year – an unusually high number due to Florida’s unseasonably cold and extended winter. The approximately five-foot-long sea cow remains in guarded condition at SeaWorld’s Manatee Rehabilitation Center, where she is be treated by park veterinarians and animal care specialists in hopes of releasing her back to nature.

SeaWorld is the global leader in the rescue and rehabilitation of manatees. The park’s Animal Rescue & Rehabilitation Team is on call 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. SeaWorld has released seven manatees this year.



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Re: SeaWorld Orlando Discussion Thread

Postby jedimaster1227 » Mon Mar 15, 2010 11:12 pm

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2011355075_seaworld16.html

The family of the SeaWorld Orlando trainer drowned by a killer whale last month gained a temporary order to keep photos and videos that captured her death out of the public eye. An Orange County Circuit Court judge late Monday granted Dawn Brancheau's family its request for a temporary restraining order against the Medical Examiner's Office and the Orange County Sheriff's Office. The Sheriff's Office is investigating Brancheau's Feb. 24 death at the theme park.

At issue are photographs taken by Orange County deputies and SeaWorld video that park officials turned over to the Sheriff's Office after the orca grabbed Brancheau by her ponytail, pulled her into the water and then drowned her.

There are video records. One is an underwater view from a camera in a window in the pool. The second is an overhead view from a camera mounted on the park's Sky Tower, according to the Brancheau's complaint, which was filed Friday. The underwater view doesn't show Brancheau until after she enters the water, the complaint said. The Sky Tower camera wasn't aimed at the scene until after the incident occurred. Neither video shows events leading up to Brancheau being pulled into the water, according to the complaint. "What the videos do depict is Mrs. Brancheau's drowning and her lifeless body," the complaint said.

By Florida law, materials collected by the Sheriff's Office as part of its investigation will become public record when the agency's investigation concludes.

Orange Circuit Court Judge Lawrence Kirkwood set a March 24 hearing to determine the length of the injunction. At that hearing, any other interested parties can be heard. Several media outlets, including national networks and the Orlando Sentinel, have requests for any and all public records related to the case, the Sheriff's Office said. Sheriff's Office attorneys take no position on the request. The Medical Examiner's Office filed no objection, according to Kirkwood's order. Kirkwood has the "responsibility to balance the individual's interest in keeping the records private against the public's right do disclosure," he wrote in the six-page order.

The judge will be looking at several factors when deciding what to do. He'll have to determine if releasing the information furthers the public's evaluation of "governmental accountability." And he'll weigh how intrusive the videos and pictures are to the relatives if the information is released. Kirkwood will inquire whether other material that is "equally relevant" but less intrusive is available.

In an affidavit also filed Friday, Scott Brancheau stated he fears the release of the video footage and photos would lead to the "widespread and irreversible dissemination" of the items on the Internet. The release of such images, "which graphically depict the circumstances of the death of my wife ... will cause me untold anguish, grief and pain," Brancheau stated.

The Brancheau family — including Dawn Brancheau's mother, sister and brother — is represented by Jon Mills, an emeritus dean at University of Florida's Levin College of Law and a former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives. It is also represented by Karen Dyer, wife of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, according to the order. Mills was part of the legal team that represented the widow of NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt in her battle to prevent the release of her husband's autopsy photos after he was killed in a 2001 race crash in Daytona Beach.
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Re: SeaWorld Orlando Discussion Thread

Postby jedimaster1227 » Tue Mar 16, 2010 9:07 pm

SeaWorld Orlando has sent us a press release about its latest celebrity visitor, Carlos Peña. He and his family took the time to visit Discovery Cove.

Carlos Peña, first baseman for the Tampa Bay Rays, swims with a new fan, Jenny, an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin. Peña spent the day at Discovery Cove in Orlando swimming with dolphins, snorkeling with rays, and hand-feeding exotic birds. Explore more at DiscoveryCove.com.



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Re: SeaWorld Orlando Discussion Thread

Postby atem122 » Tue Mar 16, 2010 9:10 pm

That last picture is worthy of a caption contest.

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Re: SeaWorld Orlando Discussion Thread

Postby jedimaster1227 » Fri Mar 19, 2010 8:55 am

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/breakingnews/os-sea-world-trainer-shamu-video-20100318,0,2073999.story

SeaWorld got permission Thursday to help the family of killer-whale trainer Dawn Brancheau keep photos and video related to her death out of the public eye. An Orange County judge granted the theme park's request to join a motion by Brancheau's family to prevent the Orange County Sheriff's Office and the local medical examiner from releasing images related to the attack that killed the trainer.

At issue are photos taken by Orange County deputies and SeaWorld video that park officials turned over to the Sheriff's Office after an orca grabbed Brancheau by her ponytail, pulled her into the water and then drowned her Feb. 24. According to court records filed earlier, the video recordings include an underwater view from a camera in a window in the pool, and an overhead view from a camera mounted on the park's Sky Tower. The underwater view doesn't show Brancheau until after she enters the water, the Brancheau family's complaint said. The Sky Tower camera wasn't aimed at the scene until after the incident occurred.

Neither video shows events leading up to Brancheau being pulled into the water, the complaint said. "What the videos do depict is Mrs. Brancheau's drowning and her lifeless body," the court record said.

In a motion filed by SeaWorld counsel Wednesday, the company said it has an interest in the pending litigation because it is the exclusive owner of all rights in and to the videos and will be directly affected by the outcome of the litigation.

A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, where a judge will determine whether the material will become public or remain private.

By Florida law, materials collected by the Sheriff's Office as part of its investigation will become public record when the agency's case concludes.


http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/os-tilikum-whale-seaworld-20100318,0,4930240.story

Three times a day, just as they always have, SeaWorld Orlando's killer-whale trainers brush Tilikum's teeth. But they no longer stand right next to the animal with a water pick. Instead, trainers have built a 2-foot extension that allows them to work farther from the 6-ton orca's jaws. The jury-rigged toothbrush is one small example of the many adjustments SeaWorld has made in the 3 1/2 weeks since Tilikum grabbed veteran trainer Dawn Brancheau by her ponytail and drowned her in front of park guests.

After the Feb. 24 tragedy, SeaWorld removed Tilikum from its daily shows and ordered its trainers to keep their distance from the animal, who is twice as big as any other orca at SeaWorld Orlando. The park imposed the restrictions while it reviews its killer-whale safety protocols, a process now expected to extend into April. But though Tilikum no longer shows up to splash audiences during SeaWorld's popular "Believe" killer-whale show, he continues to live in the park's seven-tank orca complex. SeaWorld says it has taken numerous steps to continue providing a healthy, stimulating environment for the animal. "He's the same exact Tilikum through all of this, and we're providing him with the same exact environment, as far as it being stimulating and enriching and healthy," said Kelly Flaherty Clark, curator of animal training at SeaWorld Orlando. "What's changed is we're challenged with finding new ways of doing that."

Some of the adjustments have required Tilikum to learn new behaviors. Consider how SeaWorld obtains blood samples from its orcas. Typically, trainers will have a killer whale line up along a shallow ledge while a trainer kneels by its tail. The animal will then roll over, deposit a tail fluke in the trainer's lap and allow an adjacent veterinarian to take a blood sample with a syringe. But with trainers no longer allowed that close to Tilikum, they have had to devise a new method. So they have trained him to line up with the tip of a target pole held over the water, with only his tail by the side of the tank. A vet can then reach over a wall to get a sample of Tilikum's blood. Flaherty Clark said Tilikum learned the new process in only about two weeks, a sign that the orca remains engaged.

There are other examples. When trainers must open or close a gate between tanks, for instance, they have any nearby orca wait a short distance away, allowing trainers time to adjust the gates. Tilikum used to maintain such holds for 10 to 12 seconds, Flaherty Clark said; now, he holds for as much as three or four minutes.

Tilly's new tricks

Tilikum has even learned a new way to accomplish the orca equivalent of cleaning his room. Whenever he is done playing with his "toys" -- which include oversized plastic disks, blocks of ice and large balls originally designed for elephants -- the animal now knows to deposit them by the side of the pool and then swim to another tank so trainers can enter to gather them.

Flaherty Clark said Tilikum has long enjoyed tactile interactions with his trainers -- having his pectoral fin rubbed, for instance -- that are no longer possible. So trainers have taken to spraying salt water from a high-pressure hose into his tank to simulate a massage. "You'll see him manipulate his body in ways that only he can possibly come up with, in order to get just the right body part under the saltwater pressure," Flaherty Clark said.

Tilikum continues to rehearse maneuvers used in SeaWorld performances, to keep him active and involved. Although SeaWorld maintains that life remains enriching for Tilikum, some animal activists, who argue against keeping killer whales in captivity at all, say that is unlikely.

Howard Garrett, board president of the Orca Network in Greenbank, Wash., which advocates for killer whales in the Pacific Northwest, said forcing trainers to keep their distance likely has a negative effect on Tilikum, as orcas are inherently social animals who enjoy physical contact. "They're very tactile. … He's going to notice the difference that nobody will come close to him," Garrett said. "And, inevitably, that's going to increase his sense of isolation."

SeaWorld has said it will not permit its trainers back into the water with any of its killer whales until after its safety review is complete, possibly in April.

Not waiting to act

But the park is already making some procedural changes. For instance, the number of killer-whale trainers permitted to handle Tilikum has been reduced to the six most-experienced on staff. Previously, SeaWorld had permitted about a dozen of its 28 orca trainers to work with Tilikum.

And SeaWorld says a new rule that trainers with long hair tie it in a bun -- rather than merely binding it in a long ponytail, as Brancheau did -- is a permanent policy change.

Some adjustments, such as Tilikum's extended toothbrush, had to be quickly improvised. Flaherty Clark said trainers began thinking of new ways to care for the animal immediately after the incident. "Caring for Tilikum is something that was absolutely front in our minds," she said. "It would certainly have been at the front of Dawn's mind."
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Re: SeaWorld Orlando Discussion Thread

Postby jedimaster1227 » Wed Mar 31, 2010 10:59 pm

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/breakingnews/os-seaworld-trainer-autopsy-20100331,0,7791965.story

SeaWorld Orlando trainer Dawn Brancheau suffered "blunt force" injuries to her neck, head and torso after a killer whale pulled her under water last month, according to a final autopsy report released this morning.

The report confirms last month's preliminary findings by the Orange-Osceola Medical Examiner's Office that Brancheau's cause of death was from multiple traumatic injuries and drowning. The Medical Examiner ruled her death an accident.

The Orange County Sheriff's Office and SeaWorld officials initially said Brancheau slipped and fell into the killer whale's tank.

Brancheau, 40, was interacting with a 12,000-pound orca named Tilikum in knee-deep water Feb. 24 when the killer whale grabbed her by her ponytail and wouldn't let go. A crowd was present when the orca attacked Bracheau.

The six-page autopsy report shows the violence with which Tilikum treated the veteran trainer after she was pulled in the water. The orca removed part of Brancheau's scalp and detached her left arm. She also suffered multiple fractures, including to her back, ribs, legs, arms and face. Her spinal cord also was injured, the report said. Her body was covered in cuts and bruises. The medical examiner found fluid in Brancheau's lungs, showing that she drowned. A toxicology report, which is routinely performed on autopsies, found no drugs in Brancheau.

Immediately after the attack witnesses told the Orlando Sentinel the killer whale shook and tossed the trainer while swimming with her in the tank.

The Sheriff's Office said its investigation into the accident is on-going and did not release additional information about the attack.

The lawyer representing Brancheau's family did not return a request for comment.

SeaWorld Orlando spokeswoman Becca Bides said the park had no comment on the autopsy but that the company is hoping the media gives Brancheau's family members the "respect and humanity they deserve."

Brancheau's family has filed a motion in Orange County Circuit Court to keep Sheriff's Office photographs and SeaWorld's on-site video of the accident from becoming public. A judge permitted the family, SeaWorld and various media organization, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Lakeland Ledger, to negotiate a possible agreement about the availability of the video and photos. On Wednesday, the Associated Press joined the process. Two of the theme park's video cameras captured parts of the killer whale attack. SeaWorld has argued in court that the video should not become public because it is private and that it owns the video.
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Re: SeaWorld Orlando Discussion Thread

Postby PAL » Mon Apr 05, 2010 2:02 pm

Just an FYI. If you are planning to use Silver Passports from another Sea World / Busch park at Sea World Orlando, you might want to print out and bring an explanation of the benefits when you go. We encountered a training and customer service problem that could cost you time and aggravation.

Last week our family of 4 Sea World San Diego annual pass holders visited Orlando. Two of us have Platinum Passes, the other two Silver.

When we visited the ticket booth, the attendant knew that our Platinum Passes allowed free admission - in fact, our original passes worked in the turnstiles here and at Busch Tampa. Impressive!

However, neither this employee nor the other one working the station next to her knew that Silver Passport holders are allowed entry for 50% off the normal gate price. In fact, she was quite rude and argumentative about it when I asked to speak with a manager. (I was mellow - I'm on vacation to have fun, not raise my blood pressure)

I eventually brought up the Sea World San Diego's passport member website on my iPhone to show the proper price, which didn't get me anywhere. It took quite a while for the manager to arrive, 15 to 20 minutes, who didn't so much as look at me but did square the ticket seller away. We got our 50% off tickets, but without any acknowledgment that they should have known better from the beginning.

Maybe I caught them on a bad day. Basic courtesy goes a long way, and I've experienced nothing but excellent, cheerful customer service during our visits to the Sea World / Busch family of parks. We've never run into this at home, and only encountered top notch, friendly employees inside SWO and at Busch Tampa later that week.

And I might as well add that Manta was great, swoopy fun with those teases of imminent collision (oh, but they made Tatsu's ops look blistering quick). Kraken was top notch, our new favorite of the B&M floorless variety, topping the Medusas and Scream.

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Re: SeaWorld Orlando Discussion Thread

Postby alpengeist04 » Mon Apr 05, 2010 2:21 pm

^Thanks for the heads up on the passport issue. I'll have to remember that when I use my BGT pass for BGW next year. ...Just in case.

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Re: SeaWorld Orlando Discussion Thread

Postby robbalvey » Sun Apr 11, 2010 12:00 pm

Hey everyone!

I have just posted our Manta front seat POV from Roller Coasters in the RAW Volume 4:

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You can order Roller Coasters in the RAW Volume 4 here:
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It's available on DVD or Digital Download.

Enjoy!

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Re: SeaWorld Orlando Discussion Thread

Postby themeparkman25 » Sun Apr 11, 2010 12:04 pm

I <3 you MANTA! Great video Robb, thanks for sharing!
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