Chicks Born, Turtle Released, and Antarctica Wedding Headline January’s SeaWorld Update

As SeaWorld gears up for the nationwide 50th anniversary celebration of the original San Diego park, their animal rescue and rehabilitation teams continue working.  Over the past few weeks, new tawny frogmouth chicks were born (pictured below), a successful sea turtle surgery and release took place, and penguins dressed up in their tuxedo finery for a white wedding.  Continue reading for more photos and news updates from around the SeaWorld parks.

Baby Frogmouth Chicks at SeaWorld

Update January 20, 2014

From SeaWorld Orlando: Today marks National Penguin Awareness Day and the SeaWorld Orlando Aviculture Team is celebrating with a “penguin chick” boom.  Since November 30, a total of 15 penguin chicks have hatched at Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin, the all-new attraction which features a colony of more than 250 penguins from four species – king, Adelie, Gentoo and rockhopper.

The king penguin was the first chick to hatch followed shortly after by the Adelie, Gentoo and rockhopper chicks.  Although currently ranging in size from 6 inches to 21 inches, the king chick, the largest penguin at SeaWorld’s Antarctica will grow to be as tall as 2.5 ft. and its smallest, the rock hopper will grow to be approximately 12 inches tall.

SeaWorld Orlando Baby Penguins

All 15 chicks are under the watchful eye of the SeaWorld Orlando Aviculture Team, who monitor the chicks’ growth closely and provide routine feedings. Many of the chicks are currently residing behind-the-scenes in a penguin nursery until they fledge, which is the process of losing their baby down and growing their waterproof feathers.  As the chicks become more comfortable within the nursery pool they will begin daily “fieldtrips” into the exhibit until they’re old enough to be with the colony.

And, starting this Wednesday, January 22, SeaWorld Orlando fans will have the chance to help name a Gentoo chick. You can cast a vote for your favorite name by visiting SeaWorld Orlando Facebook page.

Penguin lovers of the world can unite this weekend at SeaWorld Orlando during Wild Days Penguin Lover’s Weekend with SeaWorld Animal Ambassador Julie Scardina.  In addition to hearing Julie’s lifelong love of animals and learning more about the parks’ commitment to wildlife conservation, guests will have the special chance to virtually dance like a penguin, walk side by side with a penguin colony, and star in shareable photo opportunities at the coolest “ice” block party at Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin.

Original article from January 19, 2014 follows below…

Compiled from SeaWorld’s Press Releases

Four Tawny Frogmouth Chicks Hatch at SeaWorld Orlando

The SeaWorld Orlando Aviculture Team has their hands full providing round-the-clock care for four tawny frogmouth chicks that recently hatched in the park.  The chicks hatched December 6, 9, 11, and the most recent addition on January 14.  Currently their weight ranges from 18-240 grams and they’ll grow to weigh as much as 400-600 grams.

Baby Frogmouth Chicks at SeaWorld

The chicks are being hand-raised by the SeaWorld Aviculture Team, and it’s a 24-hour job caring for the hatchlings.  Each goes home nightly with a member of the team who provides scheduled feedings every 3-4 hours and monitors the chick closely throughout the night.

SeaWorld Orlando is a leader in care for tawny frogmouths and has one of the most successful breeding programs.  Since the program started in 1993, 51 frogmouth chicks have hatched at the park.  SeaWorld Orlando has partnered with several members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums dedicated to the future success of the species.

Baby Frogmouth Chicks at SeaWorld

Fun fact: Although they may look like owls, tawny frogmouths are far from it and are not a part of the same family.  Tawny frogmouths are native to Australia and have distinct markings that help them camouflage on a tree branch.  They have a behavior called “stumping” where they freeze, standing very tall and make their bodies very thin to simulate a tree branch.  This behavior helps to camouflage them from predators in the wild.

Antarctic Explorers Wed at Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin

A true “white wedding” was held today at SeaWorld Orlando as two Antarctic explorers shared their vows at Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin, the park’s cool rendition of the icy continent.  Heart-warming and bone-chilling extremes could be felt as the couple, who met in 2012 while working in Antarctica for the New Zealand government, was married in the 32-degree, snowy penguin habitat.

Antarctica Wedding at SeaWorld

Just inches from the bride and groom were 250 members of the bridal party – a colony of king, Adélie, gentoo and rockhopper penguins – all dressed in their black and white “tuxedos” fit for the occasion.

“Antarctica is such a beautiful and intense environment.  When you experience that with someone, the bond you create is rare.  Having our wedding here at SeaWorld in this realm that so perfectly captures the essence of the continent brought me right back to the day Jeff and I met,” said the bride, Susanne Grieve.

Antarctica Wedding at SeaWorld

The couple “wintered” together in 2012, braving average temperatures of minus 76 degrees Fahrenheit.  Fresh produce and mail were two of the many conveniences the couple went without during their time in Antarctica.

Grieve, who now teaches conservation, preservation and archaeology courses at East Carolina University, hopes to one day return to the frigid continent where she had previously worked with the Antarctic Heritage Trust to protect late 1800s explorers’ legacy, including the bases and the artifacts they left behind.  The groom, Jeff Rawson, still works for the New Zealand government and just recently returned from Antarctica.  Rawson’s work focuses on supporting scientific research on climate studies and ice core sampling.

“Having our wedding at SeaWorld’s Antarctica really represented the place we built our relationship.  It was so fascinating to see the elements the designers replicated from this continent only a handful of people would ever typically be able to experience,” Grieve said.

Antarctica Wedding at SeaWorld

Experience the majestic grandeur of the South Pole for yourself by viewing SeaWorld’s 24/7, on-habitat camera streaming footage of the penguins in their chilly habitat.  There are only two places in the world you can get this experience – Antarctica and SeaWorld Orlando’s Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin!  Watch the cam for yourself at AnimalVision.com/penguins.

Loggerhead Sea Turtle Returned after Multiple Fish Hook Surgeries

A rescued sub-adult loggerhead sea turtle was returned to Florida waters after rehabilitating at SeaWorld Orlando over the last several months following multiple surgeries to remove two fishing hooks.

Sea Turtle Release from SeaWorld

The turtle was rescued outside of Port Canaveral, FL, on August 12, 2013 after being found by the Kennedy Space Center’s Ecological Program.  With assistance from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Sea Turtle Preservation Society, the turtle was rescued and transported to SeaWorld Orlando for care.

Upon arrival at SeaWorld, the turtle underwent three surgeries to remove two fishing hooks that were lodged in the turtle’s body.  One was visibly lodged in the turtle’s mouth, while another hook was lodged in the lower esophagus of the turtle.  Both fishing hooks were successfully removed.

After being medically cleared for the return, the park’s Animal Rescue Team transported the approximately 150-pound turtle to Canaveral National Seashore on Florida’s east coast where the turtle was successfully returned to the ocean.

Sea Turtle Release from SeaWorld

In collaboration with the government and other members of accredited stranding networks, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment operates one of the world’s most respected programs to rescue ill and injured marine animals, with the goal to rehabilitate and return to the waters.  SeaWorld animal experts have helped more than 22,000 animals in need – ill, injured, orphaned and abandoned – for more than four decades.

So far this year, SeaWorld Orlando has rescued two sea turtles and returned one.  Since 1980, SeaWorld has rescued and returned nearly 3,000 sea turtles.

First Area Opens at SeaWorld San Diego’s New Explorer’s Reef

SeaWorld San Diego’s newest and largest retail store, The SeaWorld Store, gives park guests the opportunity to shop for all of the latest SeaWorld merchandise the park has to offer.  From Shamu-themed gifts, to souvenirs inspired by playful dolphins and majestic sea turtles, to cool arctic collectibles, The SeaWorld Store has everything under one roof.

SeaWorld Store at SeaWorld San Diego

Explorer’s Reef is a 16-month project that is completely transforming the San Diego marine park’s arrival experience by connecting park guests to the sea like never before.  It will open on March 21, just in time for SeaWorld’s 50th Celebration.  SeaWorld guests will be transported into an undersea realm as they pass beneath an iconic and stunning wave sculpture.  Once inside the park, visitors will be immediately immersed in a vibrant tropical coral reef that will give them the feeling of walking on the bottom of the ocean.  Guests will have the opportunity for up-close interactions with shark pups, rays, crabs and cleaner fish in four new state-of-the-art freshwater and saltwater touch pools.

SeaWorld Store at SeaWorld San DiegoSeaWorld Store at SeaWorld San Diego

SeaWorld’s 50th Celebration will feature a Sea of Surprises starting March 21.  SeaWorld parks in San Diego, Orlando and San Antonio will share the excitement throughout an 18-month celebration that highlights some of the most memorable SeaWorld experiences.

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About Dave Parfitt

Married, father of two girls, and living in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I'm a runner with a PhD in neuroscience and a passion for travel.