Screamscape has reported a Quick-Rise safety floor is being installed in the Orca tanks. Interesting read.
Orlando Park News has pictures of what may be a new safety feature being added to the killer whale stadium area. This work is taking place in the old Dine with Shamu pool area, where the accident took place in 2010. The white structre you are looking at going in here may be a new quick-rise floor platform that will be sunk to the bottom of the pool, and in the case of any other kind of incident it can be raised to the surface, bringing anything and everything that was in the pool, up and out of the water. On a similar note, I had heard that a similar floor system may be installed in the main show pool starting in early 2012. The work on the main pool will mean that the show pool will be out of service for a prolonged period of time for the install, so it makes sense to install the same floor concept in the larger pool in the back first, as that pool would then be able to be used for temporary abbreviated killer whale shows.
A Canadian appellate court ruled Wednesday that a Niagara Falls marine park must return a killer whale loaned to it by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.
The Court of Appeal for Ontario ruled that Orlando-based SeaWorld was within its rights to cancel a 5-year-old breeding-loan agreement through which it had loaned a male killer whale to Marineland in Niagara Falls.
"This was not a guaranteed, long-term relationship," Justice Stephen Goudge wrote in a nine-page ruling. "The termination provision is clear and not commercially unreasonable."
SeaWorld notified Marineland in December that it wanted to cancel the agreement and asked the Canadian park to return the whale, an 8-year-old male named "Ikaika." The company said in court filings that it had become concerned about the whale's "physical and psychological health" while in Marineland's care.
SeaWorld said in a written statement that it was "gratified" by the ruling.
"While SeaWorld regularly participates in cooperative breeding loans with other institutions, we maintain an abiding interest in the welfare of our animals and do not hesitate to act in their best interest if we feel that a partner institution is not meeting its obligations in veterinary care, husbandry or training," the company stated. "Plans will be made to move Ikaika back into SeaWorld's U.S. collection at the earliest opportunity."
The company, which operates SeaWorld marine parks in Orlando, San Diego and San Antonio, said it has not yet decided on the timing of Ikaika's return or which of its three parks will become the animal's new home. A 12-year-old male killer whale died one year ago at SeaWorld San Diego.
Marineland, meanwhile, issued a written statement in which it said it was considering all of its options, including suing SeaWorld for misrepresentation.
"It is extremely disappointing that SeaWorld is now unwilling to continue to honour our long-term friendship and understanding," John Holer, the Canadian park's founder and president, said in the written statement.
The unusual custody battle underscores the value of captive killer whales — particularly a maturing male with the potential to sire calves. Killer whales are the biggest draws in the marine-park industry, but they are also exceedingly difficult to obtain because negative publicity has made it impractical for parks to capture new ones from the wild.
SeaWorld, owner of the world's largest collection of captive killer whales, has 19 of them in the U.S, including one on loan from the Barcelona Zoo in Spain. The company has lent another five to Loro Parque, a Canary Islands marine park.
Marineland, according to Canadian news outlets, has just two, including Ikaika.
Ikaika was born in August 2002 at SeaWorld Orlando. His father is Tilikum, the six-ton killer whale that killed a trainer in February 2010. The tragedy triggered an investigation by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration in which the agency ultimately recommended that SeaWorld trainers never again be allowed to have unprotected contact with killer whales. SeaWorld is appealing OSHA's findings.
Change the scheme, Alter the mood! Electrify the boys and girls if you would be so kind!
^I was wondering the exact same thing so I googled it. This is what I got as a result...
SeaWorld Orlando and its sister park in San Antonio recently chartered planes to fly four young killer whales to a zoological park in the Canary Islands. During the flights, the whales were secured in reinforced canvas slings inside watertight transport containers lined with foam.
SeaWorld Orlando has quietly launched a "major redevelopment" that will add several new attractions to the marine park in 2012 and 2013.
The plans, according to government filings and interviews with people familiar with various elements, include transforming a 24-year-old penguin exhibit into a new, possibly Antarctica-themed ride; adding a sea-turtle movie attraction to an existing manatee display; and building a rainforest-themed trail in Discovery Cove, SeaWorld's limited-admission boutique park, that would include a freshwater pool and habitats for primates and otters.
SeaWorld declined to discuss details of its plans this week, though it confirmed that it has multiple new attractions in the works.
"We do have plans for incredible new attractions at SeaWorld Orlando, and we're committed to finding amazing new ways to immerse our guests and fans in the mysteries of the sea," SeaWorld spokesman Nick Gollattscheck said. "It's too early to talk about the plans and details right now, but you can expect us to share the news in the near future."
In a sign of how ambitious its plans are, a delegation of top SeaWorld Orlando executives met two weeks ago with more than a half-dozen senior Orange County planning and growth-management officials to alert them to the coming work. The SeaWorld contingent included SeaWorld Orlando President Terry Prather; park vice presidents in charge of finance, design and engineering, and lobbying; and a corporate engineering and creative-development executive.
The SeaWorld executives, according to those at the meeting, sought assurances that their plans would advance rapidly through the county's permitting process.
"They're going to be doing a major redevelopment. They're looking at spending a significant amount of money," said John Smogor, Orange County's planning administrator, though he said the SeaWorld executives did not discuss specific project details.
The Orlando spending surge is an effort by Orlando-based SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment — and its owner, private-equity giant the Blackstone Group — to revive the biggest and most important of its 10 U.S. theme parks. SeaWorld Orlando alone is responsible for roughly one-third of the company's total earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, according to the ratings firm Standard & Poor's.
But SeaWorld Orlando has also struggled during the past 18 months, losing visitors to Universal Orlando and its year-old Wizarding World of Harry Potter themed area. More challenges are looming, with Merlin Entertainments Group preparing to open a Legoland theme park in Winter Haven later this month and Walt Disney World in the midst of expanding two of its four parks — including Disney's Animal Kingdom, which, like SeaWorld, is themed around wildlife and conservation.
"SeaWorld desperately needs to keep up with the competition in Orlando, and both Universal and Disney are just throwing money at stuff right now," said Robert Niles, publisher of ThemeParkInsider.com. "If SeaWorld doesn't do anything, it's going to get left behind."
While SeaWorld won't reveal its plans yet, some details have trickled out.
One of the biggest projects, expected to be completed in 2013, involves Penguin Encounter, a walk-through exhibit that opened in 1987 and displays several different species of penguins, as well as puffins and murres.
SeaWorld employees have been told the exhibit will close in December for an 18-month refurbishment, and one county official said he expects SeaWorld to demolish the building entirely. SeaWorld is currently renovating a back-area avian-research building to make room for the penguins that will be displaced by the construction.
What exactly will replace the penguin exhibit is less clear. There are persistent rumors, first reported by the industry news site ScreamScape.com, that SeaWorld plans to build an indoor "dark ride" in its place. Since August, SeaWorld Orlando has also trademarked a trio of names that could be associated with the project: "Antarctica" and "Empire of the Penguins," both for use as themed areas in an amusement park, and "SnowWorld," for use as an amusement-park attraction.
Separately, SeaWorld is also planning to redevelop its Manatee Rescue attraction, a project expected to debut in 2012. According to a person familiar with details, the plans include renovating a circular theater and using it for an upgraded, sea-turtle movie that will likely be tied in with a theatrical documentary that was released this past summer through SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment's new SeaWorld Pictures film unit.
Documents filed with the South Florida Water Management District confirm that SeaWorld plans to convert the manatee exhibit into a "combination manatee/sea turtle exhibit." SeaWorld last month also trademarked the name "Turtlesphere 360" for use in a theme-park attraction.
There are also rumors that SeaWorld is designing a "Space Oyssey"-themed sea lion performance to replace the current "Clyde and Seamore Take Pirate Island" show.
Discovery Cove, the high-end boutique park next door to SeaWorld, is also a part of the expansion efforts. Documents filed with the water district and Orange County show that SeaWorld intends to convert a now-closed saltwater reef into a freshwater environment alternatively referred to as the "Flooded Rainforest Trail" or "Flooded Forest River Trails."
Features there, according to the documents, will include a "primate island" and an otter-viewing area.
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