Results of Rescue Program

Animal Rescue & Rehabilitation Program


Outcome of Treatment

  1. Restoring health to stranded animals takes a great deal of time and effort. The eventual outcome of an animal depends upon its initial condition when rescued. Juveniles often have a better chance of recovery than adults.
  2. Juvenile animals of most species have a better
    chance of recovery than adults.

Animal Release

  1. The main objective of the SeaWorld Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Program is to return rehabilitated animals to the wild.

    Releasing rehabilitated animals to the wild is the primary goal of
    SeaWorld’s Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Program.

    • Before a pinniped is released, a National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) tag is attached to one of its hind flippers, in the event future identification is necessary.
    • Before manatees are released, they are marked both cryogenically (freeze-branded) and with passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags and fitted with a radio transmitter so researchers can track them.

      This manatee has been fitted with a radio transmitter attached to its
      tail stock. This device will allow researchers to track it.

    • Prior to release, cetaceans are cryogenically marked or fitted with radio transmitters.

      Radio transmitters are fitted to the dorsal fins of dolphins.

Animals that are Not Released

  1. Chronically debilitated animals may be kept at SeaWorld parks, or other NMFS authorized facilities, on public display or in off-exhibit enclosures.
  2. The rehabilitation of some animals is long term. They are provided with care at SeaWorld until they are deemed releasable.

Annual Number of Rescues

  1. The number of animals rescued each year varies widely with weather conditions, food availability, animal population levels, and other factors.
  2. Between 1990 and 1994, more than 3,000 stranded animals were rescued by or brought to SeaWorld parks. SeaWorld of California alone received more than 960 mammals and, following successful rehabilitation, released 484.

    Approximately 85% of the marine mammals rescued by the SeaWorld
    parks are seals and sea lions with first year pups accounting for most
    of that percentage.

  3. SeaWorld of California has treated as many as 475 marine mammals in a year. Aviculturists rehabilitate as many as 400 birds each year.
    • In 1995, SeaWorld of California rescued 68 marine mammals. Of these, 42 (62%) survived, and 36 (86%) of the survivors were released.
    • In 1983, SeaWorld of California rescued and treated a total of more than 500 animals. The marked increase in strandings was attributed to an El Nino event. This cyclic weather condition is characterized by a number of atmospheric changes, resulting in an unusually warm water current that causes fish populations to shift and food availability to decline (Nowak, 1991).
  4. SeaWorld of Florida is one of the founding institutions of the Southeastern U.S. Marine Mammal Stranding Network (SEUS). SeaWorld of Florida rescues 20 to 40 stranded marine mammals annually, primarily manatees. SeaWorld of Florida also rescues 100 to 200 birds and 40 to 50 sea turtles each year. In 1990, SeaWorld Research Biologist Dr. Daniel Odell received a Presidential Point of Light award from President George Bush for his work with the Stranding Network.

    The majority of marine mammals rescued
    by SeaWorld Orlando are manatees.


  1. SeaWorld covers all expenses of its Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Program including staff, transportation, and facilities at an annual cost estimated at more than $1 million.
  2. All the expenses for the Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Program
    including staff, transportation, and facilities are covered by SeaWorld.