SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. is making efforts to further solidify its commitment to wildlife and conservation with a new initiative that has been announced just prior to World Oceans Day. Due to the significant threat they present to oceanic habitats, none of the 12 theme and amusement parks currently owned and operated by the company will continue to offer single-use plastic bags or straws.
John Reilly — interim chief executive officer for SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. — said in a statement today,
This milestone environmental achievement is a testament to our mission to protect the environment, the ocean and the animals we share our planet with, which are currently threatened by unprecedented amounts of plastic pollution. We see the harmful effects of plastic pollution in the animals we rescue and rehabilitate, and therefore, recognize the importance of doing our part to curb plastic pollution.
SeaWorld’s statement cited information from the nonprofit advocacy group The Ocean Conservancy which estimates that the world’s oceans are burdened with eight million metric tons of plastic each year, with 150 million metric tons already present and circulating. This plastic can be ingested by wildlife, with painful and sometimes fatal consequences.
Manager of rescue operations at SeaWorld Orlando John Peterson stated, “We’ve seen first-hand the horrific damage that plastic pollution causes to animals. Some studies have indicated that more than half of sea turtles out in the wild ingest some form of plastic. In fact, just this week, we performed surgery on a rescued sea turtle who became ill from ingesting plastic and other ocean debris.”
Founding chairman and expedition leader of OCEARCH — a research and conservation organization SeaWorld collaborates with — Chris Fischer remarked, “We applaud SeaWorld’s commitment to important conservation efforts that support our environment, oceans and marine life. We all need to do our part to educate the public about the harmful consequences of plastic pollution, which we see all too often. We’re proud to partner with a like-minded company like SeaWorld and look forward to continuing our work together to better understand and protect the habitats of marine animals.”
The list of SeaWorld’s parks, all of which will be removing the plastic bags and straws from circulation, includes Orlando, San Diego, and San Antonio’s SeaWorld and Aquatica parks; Sesame Place; Adventure Island; Water Country USA; Discovery Cove Orlando; Busch Gardens Williamsburg; and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.
SeaWorld also highlighted their other in-park conservation efforts such as increased reliance on solar power, more efficient recycling, and using sustainable foods.
Source: SeaWorld Entertainment