The first SeaWorld opened in 1964 in San Diego, California. Following its success, theoriginal owners opened a second SeaWorld (since closed) in Aurora, Ohio. In 1973, they openedrespondent’s facility, Sea World of Florida, LLC, in Orlando, Florida. The owners sold the parks toHarcourt Brace Jovanovich (HBJ) in 1976. In 1988, HBJ opened Sea World of Texas in SanAntonio, Texas. HBJ sold its parks in 1989 to Busch Entertainment Corporation, a division of Annheuser Busch. In 2009, the Blackstone Group bought Busch Entertainment Corporation andrenamed it SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment is headquarteredin Orlando, Florida (Tr. 570-571). The logo for all of SeaWorld’s parks is a stylized killer whale.Killer whales (
) are large aquatic mammals of the order Cetacea. Cetaceans aremammals well-suited to aquatic life, including whales, dolphins, and porpoises. Killer whales arefound in all oceans of the world. They live in long-term social groups, called pods. Killer whalesare highly intelligent and their social system is organized in a complex, female-dominant hierarchy.Killer whales are “apex predators,” at the top of the food chain. They are called killer whalesbecause they prey on other, larger whales, as well as other marine animals. Killer whales are notknown to prey on humans in the wild (Exh. C-12; Tr. 843).Kelly Flaherty Clark began working for SeaWorld of Ohio
in 1987 after graduating fromOhio State University with a degree in Animal Science (Tr. 134, 1509). Later she transferred to theOrlando park. At the time of the hearing, Ms. Flaherty Clark was the curator of animal training atSeaWorld (Tr. 33). As curator, Ms. Flaherty Clark oversees the trainers in four animal trainingprograms: the Animal Ambassadors (made up of trainers who take trained animals to visit childrenin schools and hospitals, among other community appearances), the Sea Lion and Otter Stadiumtrainers, the Whale and Dolphin Stadium trainers, and the Shamu Stadium trainers (Tr. 34).Approximately 27 trainers work at SeaWorld (Tr. 38).
Each SeaWorld park features a Shamu Stadium (Shamu was the name of the first killer whaleacquired by SeaWorld of California) where the killer whales perform. Shamu Stadium is a large
In this Decision, the court will refer to respondent SeaWorld of Florida, LLC, as “SeaWorld.” When referringto SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment or to one of the other SeaWorld parks, the court will use its full name.