SeaWorld San Diego celebrates 53rd birthday

Posted at 12:07 PM, Mar 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-21 15:07:32-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - SeaWorld San Diego is celebrating its birthday today, as the park undergoes a transition into new programming and entertainment.

SeaWorld San Diego celebrated its birthday Tuesday, marking more than five decades in Mission Bay Park.

"For 53 years, SeaWorld has combined fun with inspirational experiences that matter to more than 160 million guests while continuing its dedication to wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, groundbreaking scientific research, conservation, marine-life education and environmental stewardship," the park said in a statement.

A spokesperson said the park didn't have any plans for an elaborate celebration for their 53rd birthday.

Since the park's opening, SeaWorld said it has helped more than 17,000 ill, injured, or stranded marine life. Species the park's team has worked with include sea turtles, pelicans, seabirds, whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions, and sea otters.

"The goal of the rescue program has always been to give animals a second chance at life and return them to the wild," SeaWorld said in a statement. "The park is proud to be able to successfully rehabilitate and return nearly 65 percent of these rescued animals to the ocean, animals that would have perished without the dedicated efforts of its animal care specialists and veterinarians."

The park also celebrated research projects the park has conducted or helped fund through its 53 years of activities related to researching and conserving marine animals.

RELATED: SeaWorld San Diego debuts 'All Day Orca Play' program

SeaWorld's birthday comes amidst a realignment in some of the park's entertainment offerings.

Last week, SeaWorld introduced a new "All Day Orca Play" show, an educational program that gives guests access to whale behaviorists, video programming, and live discussion about the park's killer whales throughout the day. 

The program will run for nine weeks.

SeaWorld nixed its live Orca shows from the park this year, amid criticism of the park's treatment of killer whales - famously depicted in the documentary "Blackfish."

"We have already tested educational orca presentations here and they resonated very positively with our guests, reinforcing that we can be both fun and meaningful in our parks and with our animal exhibits and presentations," the park said in a statement last January.

SeaWorld has denied the allegations from the film.

Over the next two years, the park said it plans to introduce more attractions similar to an Electric Eel roller coaster announced earlier this year. 

RELATED: Orca shows to take final bow at SeaWorld San Diego