Monday, February 16, 2015

Sara Ellzey Has Ideas for SeaWorld

On January 19, 2015, Sara Ellzey, from Boston, Massachusetts, USA, reached out with ideas that she believes will help SeaWorld grow. Her ideas are detailed & elaborated, so instead of just telling us about them, maybe it's best if she shares them with you, too. She is our guest blogger. Below are her ideas.


Sara Ellzey is in sales by day, and is a writer-activist by night. She is a longtime supporter of human rights and animal rights, with a passion for non-profit and volunteer work. She has a particular affinity for cetaceans, elephants and dogs. She currently lives in Boston, MA, having previously lived in Pennsylvania, Virginia and California. Find her on Twitter @WeAreItForThem


SeaWorld should take their proposed 1.5 acre pool and make a snorkeling and scuba diving pool with a beach for visitors. The water can house reefs with life-sized moldings of various marine mammals. The education department could offer waterproof headsets to visitors for an audio tour for underwater and on land.

A model of every type of animal they have rescued can be in those pools and on those beaches, in a realistic habitat so guests could learn in an interactive way. 

Money from this type of park can help fund sea pens or salmon restoration efforts. It would be the first project of its kind and an amazing step in the right direction. Some organizations across the world work to release and rehabilitate terrestrial animals, like the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust; the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, USA; the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand. SeaWorld led the way to marine captivity, and surely they can lead the way back to sea.

Each marine mammal model will have written & audio descriptions, telling the public about the animals SeaWorld has rehabilitated, rescued and/or released - stirring interest & support for that process. For those who don't like the water, imagine a ski-lift or monorail ride above the pools, with an audio tour. Think of the Eye of London... slow and with enough time to take it all in. Under the massive pool visitors can see the activity via glass windows. Imagine underwater walking tunnels, like at the Shark Encounter, so visitors can walk beneath the swimmers and the models, visiting multiple "habitats". This approach is animal-exploitation-free and can be updated or amended as needed. 

Include information on why reefs are so important & the effects of ocean acidification. Discuss the impact of plastics & other debris on wildlife. In the pool you will swim, snorkel or scuba dive with a guide. They'll lead you through each area. Underwater photographers could take pictures for purchase.

Have you ever been to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, PA? 

There is a gigantic two story, full scale heart that you can walk through. You hear the heartbeat, learn about what happens to the blood. You walk through the heart as if you are blood. Imagine being underneath this massive pool at SeaWorld and seeing a gigantic humpback whale. Imagine being able to climb inside of it. You could have a whale at the bottom where the folks in the tunnel can see inside the whale and those swimming can see its vast size. Maybe they can even swim through another one next to it, from head to flukes! This could happen by keeping the top of the whale cut open by an inch or so, and guiding an oxygen line down to the open section so that a swimmer can swim through. What an interaction that shows you how truly large these creatures are!

Learn and play with interactive walls, activities or listen to story tellers. Watch 5-10 minute film clips about everyone's favorite animals in the ocean; in the various theaters, combined with a kid-centric "please touch" museum style of area. In the center there could be a playground with slides and jungle-gyms geared towards younger children. Think of a child sliding through a life-sized orca, life-sized humpback whale, or a baby slide of a life-sized bottlenose dolphin. End the water walkway tour at a gift shop, where you can pick up pictures of you in a whale (with diameters drawn on it to show you how small you are in comparison!). At this shop you can learn about where to see animals in their natural habitat, buy books, DVDs, plush toys and more, and where 25%-50% goes to support conservation or research.

Teach conservation. Use the money generated from this type of park to release the animals into sanctuaries and sea pens which will be created by you. Turn SeaWorld into the most interactive and incredible marine park in the world... without having a single live marine animal inside.