Generation Nature Archives

January 27, 2015

SeaWorld Orlando invites visitors to learn about conservation at Wild Days events


Wild Days at SeaWorld Orlando kicked off this past weekend with two days dedicated to penguins, and I was invited to join the fun and informative experience.

Wild Days are three themed weekends designed to showcase the park's conservation efforts and inspire guests to get involved in protecting and preserving the Earth's wild animal population. Included with regular admission are interactive shows, the opportunity to meet leaders in the world of animal rescue and rehabilitation, and up-close encounters with animals.

During Penguin Lovers Weekend, SeaWorld Animal Ambassador Julia Scardina hosted several shows featuring penguins and other wildlife. Scardina has worked at SeaWorld for more than 30 years, beginning as a trainer with sea lions and otters. In her current role as an animal ambassador, she has traveled to all the continents, including Antarctica, which is home to the greatest number of penguins in the world.


"In the wild, it's a much harder life," Scardina said. "It's a very fine line between life and death for those animals, and I really saw that when I was out there."

"Penguins are having a hard time all over the world. Out of those 18 species that I talked about earlier, 13 of them are in decline," Scardina said. "And the declines are happening for a variety of reasons. They're happening because there are oil spills - and sometimes it's just oil contamination - like off the coast of South America with the Magellanic penguins. There is an estimated 40,000 that don't make it every year because they're covered in oil. There's also fishing that happens. If the fishermen are out there, they're competing with the penguins for food. If fishing is happening, the penguins have to go way farther to feed their chicks."


But that's where SeaWorld makes a difference, she explained.

"There are so many people who love animals. Almost everybody considers themselves an animal lover. But I really feel like there is so much more that animals need from us than just loving them. They need us to know about them. They need us to be experts about not only their species but also about the Earth and how we can live together on it. " And that's where I think that SeaWorld really has the ability because of the fact that we've got people who not only love animals but have an expertise in caring for them and in understanding the bigger picture so that we can not only care at the highest level for the animals that we have here but also help animals out in the wild."

Scardina didn't shy away from addressing SeaWord's critics, either.

"There are a lot of people who are very critical of SeaWorld right now -- and I'm sure they're animal lovers, as well -- but when it comes to a rescue that needs to happen, you don't pick up the phone and call an animal lover. You pick up the phone and call an expert that can go there and save that animal's life. And that's what we're able to do at SeaWorld."

You can hear more of what Scardina had to say - plus see the adorable penguins and even a baby bird -- during one of the shows in the video below.

Wild Days continue next weekend with Generation Nature Live, which features appearances by Bindi Irwin on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. Irwin, daughter of the late "Crocodile Hunter" Steven Irwin, is the SeaWorld Kids youth ambassador. The weekend focuses on how kids can get involved in conservation.


"Kids really are aware because they love animals and nature, but I think in some cases, they're not really getting their hands dirty and they don't quite know what to do with that passion," Scardina said. "Generation Nature gives ideas so kids can go out and physically make a difference."

In addition to the interactive shows with Irwin, the weekend includes a block party with a high-energy DJ at the SEA Garden, a whimsical storyteller, animal encounters, and special character appearances.

Guests also can dine on Jan. 31 at the Wild Days Picnic, which is an all-you-care-to-eat barbecue buffet with music and entertainment, such as animal interactions and character appearances. The menu includes chicken, hot dogs, hamburgers, cole slaw, potato salad, baked beans, corn on the cob, homemade apple crisp, sweet tea and one drink coupon good for bottled Coca-Cola beverages or Dasani bottled water. Tickets are $19 per adult and $9 per child ages 3 to 9. Beer and wine will be available for an additional cost.


The final event in the Wild Days series - Jack Hanna Weekend - takes place Feb. 7 and 8. In addition to Hanna's shows that are open to all guests, visitors can choose a more intimate gathering with the TV personality and conservationist at a breakfast or a dinner. Both meals include a meet-and-greet with Hanna, a family photo and reserved seating for one of Hanna's shows. Breakfast costs $49 for adults and $39 for children ages 3 to 9. Dinner is $59 and $49, respectively.

SeaWorld's goal of increasing conservation efforts among everyday people may be a lofty one. However, it begins with education and awareness, which is what the theme park aims to impart with its annual Wild Days event.

"There are a lot of things that we can do to help animals survive," Scardina said. "Some of those things have to do with being aware that we have an impact on wildlife and it takes a bit of sacrifice on our part. " There are a billion people on the planet. If we each sacrificed a little more, we'd leave them a bit more. If we do pay attention, we can make that difference."

DISCLAIMER: I was a guest of SeaWorld Orlando for the first day of Wild Days. This did not affect my story; my opinions are my own.


June 23, 2014

Review: SeaWorld's Shamu's Celebration: Light Up The Night and Generation Nature LIVE


SeaWorld's Summer Nights kicked off Saturday -- the first official day of summer -- with two new shows. My family and I were invited to the final dress rehearsals on Friday for Shamu's Celebration: Light Up The Night and Genreation Nature LIVE, and I have a lot to share with you about them.


Let's start with the theme park's new evening orca show, which replaces the popular Shamu Rocks. It's definitely worth the wait for Shamu's Celebration: Light Up The Night, which is the final show of the day and usually starts at 9 p.m. Featuring new, original music, ever-changing lighting and colorful backdrops, the show does indeed feel like a celebration. It even has its own DJ, who guides the evening's entertainment.

"That's really what this show is about -- moving and having a good time," said Kelly Flaherty Clark, curator of animal training at SeaWorld Orlando.



As with the previous show, Shamu's Celebration showcases its stars performing breathtaking jumps, twists and turns, individually and in groups, under the direction of their trainers on the sidelines. But the whales also perform some new behaviors. Kayla, a 25-year-old whale, loves a challenge, according to Clark, and learned a new sequence of jumps just for Shamu's Celebration. She jumps with her dorsal fin up, then jumps with her belly up, and then returns to fin up on her third pass. Another whale gets quite a few laughs from the audience when it props up both pectoral fins on the slideout and shimmies from one side to the other.


The slideout also provides trainers with the opportunity for more one-on-one interaction with the whales. During one of the show's slower songs, the trainer pets, kisses and even hugs the animal before signaling the orca to perform a series of up-close behaviors.

Shamu's Celebration delights in the whales' ability to get the audience wet. If you are sitting in the lower sections on either side of the slideout, you WILL get wet. Be sure to heed the multiple warnings if you have unprotected electronic equipment. The whales make multiple passes throughout the show, dousing visitors with powerful flips of their tails.


The show ends with a bang -- quite literally -- as fireworks appear behind the stadium. Though I still wish SeaWorld offered a separate fireworks show at Bayside Stadium, I did appreciate not having to rush from one show to another to grab seats for the finale.

Shamu's Celebration is sure to be a popular ending to a day at the theme park, so be sure to get there early for a good view. Don't worry about being bored if you have a short wait because there is an entertaining pre-show presentation that gives the audience a chance to revisit music from past decades and enjoy a few laughs as cameras catch audience members caught up in the dancing.

SeaWorld's other new summer show, Generation Nature LIVE, also runs through August 10 and can be seen only on Saturdays in the Nautilus Theater. The show is an extension of SeaWorld's Generation Nature initiative, which aims to empower kids to make a difference with animals and nature. Youth ambassador Bindi Irwin, daughter of famous 'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin, is the face of the campaign and can be seen in video clips at the theme-park show.

Generation Nature LIVE uses a host to introduce the audience to key experts at SeaWorld, including members of the Sea Rescue team and the veterinary staff who share their stories of interacting with the animals. Of course, the stars of the show are the animals that are brought out on stage. During our show, we saw a roseate spoonbill, a pelican and a bald eagle.



To an adult, the show's message of conservation probably seemed a bit heavy-handed, but maybe that's not what children perceive. And, after all, they are the target audience. I know my own 9-year-old daughter was fascinated, especially by the video story about rescuing dolphins.


"This is an opportunity to affect the next generation," Clark said. "The power of one is huge."



Perhaps more memorable, though, is a visit to the SEA Garden outside the theater, where SeaWorld team members will introduce guests to various animals. We had a rare sighting of an Asian river otter, as well as the bald eagle from our show. Miniature ponies and flamingos can be viewed in corrals. An added bonus: Team members pass out collectible cards with information about the animals they are handling.

I was a guest of SeaWorld Orlando for its Summer Nights preview. This did not affect my story, and my opinions are my own.


June 10, 2014

New at SeaWorld Orlando: Summer Shamu show and pass member exclusives


SeaWorld Orlando is getting ready to launch an all-new Shamu show as part of its annual Summer Nights celebration, and the theme park is offering its pass members the opportunity to get a sneak peek and special seating all summer long.

"Shamu's Celebration: Light Up The Night" officially debuts on June 21. Pass members can preview the new show at 8:45 p.m. June 20 at Shamu Stadium by obtaining a wristband earlier in the day near the SEA Garden. Distribution begins at 4 p.m. Each pass member may bring two additional guests to the preview, but each person must have park admission. Pass members also will receive a commemorative gift (while supplies last). Then, through August 10, pass members can make online reservations for special seating.


SeaWorld describes the new "Shamu's Celebration: Light Up The Night" this way: "[It's] an all-new, high energy show featuring new, original music and production elements, as well as new killer whale behaviors." The new orca presentation also will debut at SeaWorld San Diego and SeaWorld San Antonio.

"Shamu's Celebration: Light Up The Night" replaces the previous summer show, "Shamu Rocks." Based on comments from SeaWorld employees who have attended dress rehearsals of the show, visitors who may think they will miss "Shamu Rocks" won't be disappointed with the new show.

I will be attending the preview of "Shamu's Celebration: Light Up The Night" at Summer Nights and will bring you a full report soon.

SeaWorld Orlando also will introduce another new summer show, "Generation Nature LIVE." It highlights SeaWorld's Animal Ambassadors and animal care experts -- what the theme park calls its "everyday heroes" -- who dedicate their time, passion and commitment to helping wildlife in need.

The theme park launched its Generation Nature initiative, which partners SeaWorld Kids with youth ambassador Bindi Irwin, daughter of famous 'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin. The conservation campaign aims to empower kids to make a difference with animals and nature and share their actions on multi-media platforms. GenN includes a website, digital apps, video blogs, online games and activities that highlight a new animal each month, such as polar bears, tigers, manatees and animals in back-yard habitats. You can read more about it on my earlier blog.



In addition to the new shows, guests can see Clyde and Seamore in Sea Lions Tonite. My family and I think this is one of the best shows at SeaWorld. Talented sea lions, otters and a walrus parody favorite SeaWorld shows and attractions with a little help from their trainers. The popular show is laugh-out-loud funny, and even includes an Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin joke and a gentle poke at The Mouse, too.

On the Fourth of July, there will be reserved seating at the Lakeside Patio for pass members to view the fireworks. Seating begins two hours before the presentation and is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

SeaWorld Orlando stays open late for Summer Nights. Guests can experience other attractions and roller coasters until 10 p.m.


March 15, 2014

SeaWorld Orlando educates and entertains kids with Just For Kids festival and Generation Nature initiative


SeaWorld Orlando is focusing on kids this month -- educating and entertaining them at its theme park and inspiring them with a new conservation initiative.

Beginning March 22, SeaWorld Orlando kicks off its Just For Kids festival. On Saturdays through April 12, kids can celebrate the company's 50th anniversary with activities just for them. The new Rockin' Rockhopper Party begins each day at 11 a.m. with a family friendly DJ outside Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin. The party also includes live penguin appearances, snow moments, snacks, fun, games, face painting and caricatures.


On Just for Kids dates, younger guests can participate in an ocean adventure, learning about marine life and at the same time collecting a stamp and a limited edition Explorer's Card at each of four locations throughout the park. Kids who collect all four receive a free Junior Animal Ambassador Medallion. Tables are set up from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin, SEA Garden, outside Shark Encounter and near Shamu Stadium. The new SEA Garden is an area where young guests can experience animal encounters during the festival.

Then end the night with Shamu and other characters at the Shamu Dance Party at the Village Square located at the front of the park. The party begins one hour prior to park closing with a stilt walker emcee who fills the square with music that the whole family can dance to, including popular line dancing songs. The Shamu Dance Party continues until 30 minutes after park closing.

This year's Just For Kids festival is a little different from the past two years and doesn't feature concerts by kid-centric artists or discounted animal up-close tours. It does run concurrently with SeaWorld's 18-month-long 50th anniversary celebration, which begins March 21.



During the anniversary celebration, guests of all ages may be tapped by the Surprise Squad to receive prizes and experiences in the park. Plus, there are more animal encounters than ever, such as the flamingo parade. I saw these birds head out from the back-stage area a couple months ago, and it was a really funny sight to see them strutting along casually with their trainers. Be on the lookout, too, for the new mobile bubble lab vehicle and a Splash Dance.


SeaWorld also hopes to spread its message of conservation through its Generation Nature initiative, which partners SeaWorld Kids with youth ambassador Bindi Irwin, daughter of famous 'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin. The campaign aims to empower kids to make a difference with animals and nature and share their actions on multi-media platforms. GenN includes a website, digital apps, video blogs, online games and activities that highlight a new animal each month, such as polar bears, tigers, manatees and animals in back-yard habitats.

In GenN's inaugural month of March, sea turtles take center stage with a calendar that includes a video blog from Bindi about the obstacles these animals face.¬†Because many sea turtles are affected by pollution, and nearly all waterways throughout the world are connected, March's GenN Conservation Challenge is to help "clean your world."̬† Families are asked to send in pictures of the oddest item they find during their clean-up, and some of the photos will be showcased online at the end of the month.

Parents also can download a fun and educational app about each month's animal.¬†In March, the GenN app is "Ocean Tales: Turtles, Sharks and Dolphins"Ě and features books, games, puzzles, pictures and videos. The app is available for download on iTunes.


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About Generation Nature

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to A Mom and The Magic in the Generation Nature category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Empire of the Penguin is the previous category.

Jack Hanna is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.