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Friday, 20 January 2012

Animal ambassador for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment discusses new attractions for 2012
Terrilyn Kunopaski

Representatives from SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, L-R: T.J. Dray, aviculturalist with Penny the penguin; Mari Delgado, associate manager, marketing communications; Julie Scardina, animal ambassador with Barron the roseate spoonbill; Lynn Kelly-McClish, animal trainer with Scout the opossum, Brad Jackson, animal trainer, with Lucky the two-toed sloth; & Ed Day, sales manager Canada

It was an unusual scene at the Sutton Place Hotel in Toronto yesterday where penguins, a sloth and an opossum were the main attraction.

But that’s what happens when SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment comes to town, as representatives and a selection of SeaWorld’s favourite animals are here for a few days to partake in media appearances.

As Canada remains one of the most important source markets for all SeaWorld parks – which include SeaWorld, Discovery Cove, Aquatica and Busch Gardens, to name a few – Julie Scardina, animal ambassador and her team are spreading the world of what the attractions have to offer visitors.

“It’s all about connecting with nature,” Scardina said, “and doing that in unique ways.”

What’s new at SeaWorld Parks in 2012?

Penny the penguin
Set to open this spring at SeaWorld Orlando is TurtleTrek, which Scardina explained helps visitors to experience the natural and manmade challenges that sea turtles face through a 3D movie playing in a domed theatre, surrounding viewers with the journey. Through this immersive experience, the idea is to give visitors a “turtle’s eye view” of the ocean world.

Not far from SeaWorld, Discovery Cove also has its sights set on unique additions this spring. Freshwater Oasis is an all-new attraction that will feature swimming and wading encounters with otters and marmosets. Set beneath a rainforest canopy, Freshwater Oasis adds to the other face-to-face encounters already available at Discovery Cove such as swimming with dolphins, feeding stingrays and getting up close and personal with sharks.

Coming soon to Busch Gardens in Tampa Bay is the park’s biggest ice show to date, titled Iceploration. World-class skaters, aerial performers, master puppetry and live animal stars take guests on a journey to different regions of the world through their performances.

Also new this year to Busch Gardens is the Animal Care Center, where guests will be able to closely observe and even take part in the animal care experience.

Lucky the sloth holds on to trainer Brad Jackson
It will give guests a sneak-peek behind the scenes of what goes on there every day in the care and upbringing of animals, Scardina explained.

Although procedures will vary daily, the treatment centre will allow guests to watch as vets do preventative checkups, treatments and surgeries on animals. Guests will be able to see into the rooms through glass walls, and audio capabilities will allow guests to talk to vets working behind the glass. Cameras placed over the exam table will show unique vantage points to guests who can watch on monitors. During treatments and surgeries, zoo educators will also be on hand to talk about what’s taking place.

Another major guest component of the new facility is a nutrition center which will feature a kitchen similar in set-up to a cooking show on television. Educators will lead demonstrations several times a day on the planning and preparation of animal diets. Guests will even have the chance to assist in preparing and doling out the range of food the park provides its animals, from fruits and vegetables to crickets and mealworms.

Canadian exclusives

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment products continue to be available through major tour operators across the country at a commissionable rate.

Scout the opossum with Lynn Kelly-McClish, animal trainer
Throughout the next few months, there are two exclusive offers available to Canadians.

For Discovery Cove reservations made now through March 11, 2012, Canadians can save $50 per reservation with the purchase of a Discovery Cove Dolphin Swim Day Resort Package. In addition, clients who book will also receive an unlimited pass to SeaWorld Orlando, Aquatica and Busch Gardens for 14 consecutive days before, during or after their visit. Because Discovery Cove is an all-inclusive experience, this includes breakfast, lunch and snacks throughout the day, all swim gear, reserved dolphin-swim interaction, beverages (including alcoholic drinks) and more.

The second exclusive Canadian offer is available through SeaWorld Orlando, as clients who purchase a full price, single-day ticket get a free visit to either Aquatica or Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. Also included, should clients opt for Busch Gardens, is the shuttle between Orlando to Tampa.

Scardina said that four major areas of focus for SeaWorld Parks are conservation education, habitat protection, species research and rescue and rehabilitation efforts across the globe.

“That work is a part of our mission,” she explained, noting that it’s a selling point that Canadians really respond to.

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