SeaWorld Exclusive: Killer Whale Treadmill and Jungle Jack Hanna

Written by Eric Davis. Posted in Features, Orlando Parkhopper, Orlando Parks, Podcasts, SeaWorld Orlando, The Unofficial SeaWorld Podcast

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Published on September 19, 2013 at 1:00 am with 29 Comments

It’s an interesting update for you today from SeaWorld Orlando, which is testing out some new technology to keep their whales happy and healthy. Also, Jungle Jack Hanna appeared in the park this week as well as the first signs of Halloween Spooktacular have been spotted.

Killer Whale Treadmill

Item update: When we posted this bit of information about the Killer Whale Treadmill, we were under the impression that it had been fully tested. However, we have since been corrected by both SeaWorld and KSB Pumps that only initial feasibility studies have been conducted and that SeaWorld has not contracted for the system, that we are aware of. Our updated version of the story follows.

We recently learned that SeaWorld has been working with KSB Pumps, which normally builds attractions for Surf Parks, to potentially construct what they are calling a Killer Whale Treadmill. Feasibility studies and 3D modeling were conducted for a device which would create water flow speeds up to 30 miles per hour, essentially simulating the sensation of endless swimming.  This is exciting news for the Orcas in SeaWorld’s care as the park develops new ways to exercise the animals in their care and provide them with enrichment. If this test is successful, we hope to see the technology to be rolled out to all the SeaWorld parks.

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Jungle Jack Hanna at SeaWorld Orlando

This past weekend Jack Hanna made several appearance at SeaWorld Orlando as well as special ticketed events at the Dine with Shamu venue. The Breakfast and Dinner events sold out quickly, but day guests who were not lucky enough to book in advance were able to attend his show at the Nautilus Theater, where he discussed animal conservation, why Zoos play an important role in protecting endangered species, and about his travels to remote places of the globe.  If you are ever in Orlando when Jack Hanna is at SeaWorld he is not to be missed!  Show up early, because he will take time to sign autographs and take pictures with fans before the show.

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SeaWorld Halloween Spooktacular Setup

October 5th – 27th SeaWorld Orlando guests will be treated to a special Halloween party which will include a special party zone, trick-or-treating and the Sesame Street Count Down to Halloween show.  It is a great event perfect for small children, and it is included with your regular park admission or annual pass.

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Set up has already begun over by Bayside Stadium and will be another great year of costumes, candy and fun.

That wraps up this update.  Tell us what you think of this Killer Whale Treadmill. Are you a Jack Hanna fan?

Now, take a moment to listen to Eric & Mike as they update you on the SeaWorld Parks in Orlando, San Diego and San Antonio. This month, they sit down with Sea Lion trainer Catherine Brown from SeaWorld San Antonio.

About Eric Davis

By day, Eric is in Marketing and Social Media. But on the weekends, he's a theme park addict. Eric is a frequent contributor to MiceChat's Orlando Parkhopper columns and tends to focus his efforts on what's new and what's news at Universal Studios and SeaWorld.

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29 Comments

Comments for SeaWorld Exclusive: Killer Whale Treadmill and Jungle Jack Hanna are now closed.

  1. Great article Eric. I really want to see Jack Hannah live. Also, the Orca treadmill sounds amazing. This is why I love SeaWorld…always thinking about how to improve animal health and happiness.

    • Exactly! SeaWorld isn’t standing still! (Pun intended) They clearly want to provide the best care possible to their Orcas and all the animals in their care!

    • If SeaWorld Really Cared About Its Animals And Not The Money Then They Would Have Banned Captivity A Long Time Ago. YoU’re Naiive If You Think SeaWorld Cares About The Happinees Of These Animals, Maybe They Should Invest In Rehabilitation Of The Captive WhaleS Instead Of Stupid Treadmills.

  2. Jack Hanna s awesome. So much energy!

    Love the idea of a water treadmill. When I was a swimmer, we had something similar for training purposes. The coach could turn up the speed of the water, forcing us to swim faster and faster to keep up. Much harder than lap swimming. Sounds like a great idea for the whales!

  3. a killer whale treadmill?

    Perversion at its finest – Seaworld wont give up the captive whales will they – they seem desperate to try and find anything to try and divert attention away from the new doc ‘Blackfish’ that is gathering pace.

    Tilikum was captured in 1983 and now they want to use this as the treadmill ‘simulates the sensation of endless swimming’.

    Yep, another great idea from Seaworld!

    Shame they havent had the idea of ‘releasing’ him into a seapen to spend the rest of his days… oh wait they cant do that because of all the anti biotics and anti acids he is on.

    Yep humans are great arent they. Nothing like messing with nature by taking an animal from its natural habitat and messing with the whales food supply in order for the whales to perform for us like circus monkeys.

    • Couldn’t agree more. This just makes me hate Seaworld more than I already do.

      • If you hate SeaWorld, stop reading the articles. SeaWorld is a great institution that does good for so many animals and habitats all over the place. What leads you to hate SeaWorld?

  4. dooley1, you took the words right out of my mouth. Orcas are family-oriented creatures who swim hundreds of miles daily in search of food. Taking these intelligent animals from their families, putting them in concrete tanks for decades, then creating another mindless form of exercise to give the appearance of caring about their welfare – disgusting.

  5. Nice update, Eric. Ignore the haters, they’re obviously too busy hugging trees to care about all the GOOD that Seaworld does. Blackfish was a great documentary that, like most documentaries, is skewed toward the way the filmmaker wants to portray the subject. In this case, that wasn’t about telling a neutral story, it was about wrenching on heartstrings and making a “sensationalist” documentary that would generate hype and get the movie sold and into theaters. Mission accomplished.

    Orcas are the biggest aspect of Seaworld’s business. If Shamu leaves the park, the business suffers greatly. They aren’t leaving. I applaud Seaworld for trying to find ways to improve the lives/well-being (in the limited means they have to work with) of the orcas they have. Furthermore, I’m strongly hoping that they eventually prevail against OSHA and get their trainers back in the water for the shows. The trainers who are uncomfortable working with the orcas in the water shouldn’t have to. Those that are should sign waivers. It’s a job that definitely has its dangers, but is one that’s loved by those who do it.

    Keep up the good work!

    • MickeyFickey are you serious, no trainer should have EVER been allowed in a fish-tank with an orca, $eaWorld are responsible for Dawn Brancheau being dragged into the pool by Tilikum.

      How can I say that because if Tilikum was still in the ocean from where $eaWorld KIDNAPPED him from, he would not have been in that pool. As a result he could not have dragged Dawn around like a rag-doll.

      You have been fed a great lie by Seaworld, they don’t care about the orcas, dolphins or any other animal that they keep hostage. they don’t even care about the trainers who they can replace just as quick as the poor animals who have a shortened life cycle when kept in a chlorinated pool away from their family.

      Why don’t you try and live in an alien location that your species is not designed to occupy?

    • Stupid. Just Go Back From Where You Came From. Nobody Is “Hating” Just Speaking Up For The Voiceless.

  6. Hugging trees?? Oh, please, leave the 70′s behind, dear.

    You say that Blackfish is all about “wrenching on heartstrings” and “generating hype” yet you seem to have overlooked the simple, yet crashingly obvious fact that SeaWorld have had it their own way for far too long. Have you watched the “Believe” show?? I “Believe” it is readily available on YouTube, in fact I KNOW it is, I have seen it. Also the mind-numbing “Making Of” the above mentioned “show”. It’s skewed towards the way the film maker wants to portray the subject.
    How very odd that you cannot see that. Methinks you see only that which you wish to see.

    “Shamu” died years ago. “Shamu” is a stage-name used by SW to perpetuate the ridiculous notion that the Orca you see in front of you is the “Original”…..so the lie starts even before you get to the park itself.

    The business depends on the Orca??? How??? We have theme parks and water parks in my country and they make huge amounts of money and yet there are no “Blackfish” or dolphins held captive for our amusment. We don’t keep them. We don’t like it. We don’t NEED them for a 30 minute self-gratifying circus show that degrades and humiliates all concerned. We have them in the waters off our coastline….as do you.

    This ridiculous “treadmill” will not enrich the lives of any but the gormless members of the public who pay good money to SW for “edutainment”. Do you go to the gym??? Do you run on your treadmill and stare at the wall while you go nowhere??? Do you feel that your life is better?? Or do you take a device with you so that you can listen to music to make it more interesting because it’s so damn boring??

    If WW returns, then more trainers will suffer serious injury or worse. You WANT people to get hurt? You regard death as an occupational hazard? You wanna do it?? This is the cessation of life we are talking about, not a stubbed toe on a filing cabinet!

    • Ocean Sun… there is no lie in saying the Shamu show. They all have their own names, and Guests know that the whales cannot all possibly be Shamu. Surely you have been to a musical or play, and knowingly were not seeing a person up on stage representing themselves. You were seeing an actor. You cannot say that SeaWorld lies to anyone, because in the shows, they even mention the names of certain whales and tell interesting facts about what they bring to the family of trainers and their pod.

      The return of Water Works is something that the trainers and animals do to share a unique bond. It is no more dangerous that being a chef at a potentially explosive kitchen, or a war hero out on the battle fields, or a doctor exposed to highly dangerous viruses, etc… So should we not have anymore restaurants… national security or police men… or no one saving lives as a doctors do??? Because clearly, their lives could all be lost at a moments notice during some freak accident.

      Think about what you say and all of its angles before posting foolishly out of spite and ignorance.

      • Oh, I am sorry, which part of the words “stage name” are you unfamiliar with?

        You are comparing the life of a soldier to that of an orca trainer? A SOLDIER??!! You’re kidding me, right??
        Soldiers defend and DIE for their country, they DON’T ever ponce about in spandex waving dead fish in the air and ride Orca as surfboards.
        They don’t entertain the public for profit as a rule, either.
        You have insulted the memory of the many who died so you could remain free, yet you have the audacity to call me ignorant.

  7. For those within a reasonable distance of Columbus, Ohio – this weekend is Jack Hanna’s Fall Fest at the Columbus Zoo: http://www.columbuszoo.org/events/09-22-13/jack_hannas_fall_fest_presented_by_fifth_third_bank.aspx, celebrating his 35th “Hanna-versary” with the zoo. The event happens every year at this time, though (plus he makes appearances at the zoo at other times), so if you’re ever in the area, check the zoo’s website to see if he will be in town.

    Also, Homage just released a new collection of Columbus Zoo shirts in his honor – http://www.homage.com/store/collections/columbus-zoo.

  8. Oh MickeyFickey what have you been drinking? SeaWorld doesn’t give a rat’s about enriching the lives of the orcas, they just want to be seen to be doing something to dampen the backlash they’re feeling from Blackfish. Heartstrings aren’t the only things being tugged. Pursestrings are being pulled tighter and SW are feeling the pinch.

    Do you seriously want to see trainers back in the water with a serial killer? What a twisted little mind you must have. And as for the ridiculous treadmill idea … puhlease! Ocean Sun said it perfectly. Treadmills are called treadmills for a reason. They’re boring as all hell. Dictionary even tells you exactly what it is … “any monotonous, wearisome routine in which there is little or no satisfactory progress”. Do you think that swimming in a straight line in a lap pool against a bit of resistance is going to simulate the actions of swimming in the ocean? Do you live under a rock???

    And let’s look at bringing the ridiculous “Jungle” Jack Hanna into the picture. The man is a walking joke. He’s a zookeeper. Nothing more. Desperate times call for desperate measures. SeaWorld must be REALLY desperate to bring a clown like Hanna to try to resurrect their sad sad enterprise.

  9. Wow, just look at all the haters out there. I’d invite you all to listen to the SeaWorld podcast that talks about how obviously skewed the Blackfin film really is. I’m not shure what podcast number it is but it’s from the Unofficial SeaWorld podcast.

    On another note, I always seem to be out on the road when ever he’s at SWO or BGT. Hopefully, I’ll be at home when he’s there so I can see him.

    • The Unofficial SeaWorld podcast? You are having a laugh, right?

      Run by a fanboy of SeaWorld, it has no real connection to SW other than the name SeaWorld! Hence, presumably WHY it’s called The Unofficial podcast.

      Of course it’s “skewed”….it’s made by people who “Believe” everything that SW tell them!

      Hardly a source of pure unbiased facts…..hardly a source at all!

  10. Jack Hanna a joke? I hardly think a man who took a run-down zoo (Columbus Zoo in Columbus,OH) on the verge of closing and turned it into a world-class facility with no cage enclosures for the animals hardly a joke. The Columbus Zoo became a model for zoos the world over.
    Zoos play a vital role in animal conservation. Yes it would be wonderful if the all animals could live free and not in captivity. Yet through zoos we have learned so much about animal behavior and in many cases have learned to help the animals in the wild. Consider the San Diego Zoo’s research efforts. They were able to solve many of the mysteries behind the Panda’s peculiar reproductive cycle and as a result have been able to successfully to breed more Pandas- a critically endangered animal. They also had success in their tireless efforts to breed and successfully reintroduce the endangered California Condor- an important link in the food chain.
    People learn to love animals by visiting places like zoos and aquariums. They also learn to love them by seeing people like Joan Embry (San Diego Zoo ambassador) and Jack Hanna show animals on television. We need more people like them.

  11. I understand some animals need to be saved in zoos and wildlife preserves, as long as they are treated well and given a chance to live close to what they would in the wild. There are some endangered wildlife, sea and land animals that need protection and need to reproduce in safety because they are so endangered in the wild because of loss of habitat and poaching. But the killer whales are not one of those such creatures. This time I do not agree with keeping killer whales in pools for the entertainment value and the fact that they are being exploited to benefit other animals. The end does not justify the means. Sea World has plenty of money that, at the very least these remaining captive killer whales could be sent to a marine sanctuary or a sea pen could be created for the remaining captive killer whales to live out their lives, as they haven’t had to hunt or survive in the wild before and lack the knowledge or family groups. There should be no more captive killer whales. The proof is out there that their lifespans are cut short, their teeth are being ruined by chewing on pool doors due to boredom and their is aggression among the killer whales due to the fact they are living in a pool instead of an ocean without their family members and without the ability to hunt for their food. In other words, they are not thriving in captivity, in fact are living shorter, less quality lives in captivity and are not endangered. They have habitat and they way zoos and aquariums first filled up their places of business thankfully is not done any more. Ripping babies from their families or killing the families to get the babies to fill up zoos and aquariums is one of the horrible ironies of the whole “we want to save these creatures” idea. The end does not justify the means. No more killer whales should be bred in captivity. It’s the right and ethical thing to do and a sea pen or marine sanctuary for the remaining captive killer whales would be the right and ethical thing to do.

  12. Their should be spelled there is aggression among killer whales…. Just noticed my misspelling. Sorry for the typo.

  13. Please tell me what role zoos have in conservation?
    To quote the reknowned Joyce Poole who has studied elephants in Kenya for 36 years:
    “It is in the elephant range states that elephant survival will be decided and where elephant conservation funds should be spent. Contrary to recent zoo rhetoric, elephant survival is in no way dependent upon keeping and breeding a few individuals in zoos. If zoos are serious about preventing local extinction of elephants, providing the public with the possibility to engage with field projects will do more for education and conservation than keeping deprived elephants held behind bars in unsuitable climates. Meanwhile, concern for the well being of those individuals held captive must be a priority.”
    Zoos cannot mimic the natural habitat of an elephant or a jaguar or any other animal that needs thousands of acres to do it’s job for the environment and live the life it deserves.
    Elephants in captivity die of foot disease and suffer arthritis in becaasue they need to walk up to 50 miles per day. The survival of at least a dozen species of trees depends on elephants to propogate as the elephants forage and drop the seed in their dung farther than any other method will take them.
    Captive animals – even in a Hanna designed zoo – will show stereotypic behaviours due to the stress and depression of not being able to live it’s natural life, and the terrifying memory of how they got there.
    The babies they have are produced after many painful attempts at Artificial Insemination in the ‘rape rack’. This is as horrible as it sounds.
    These are all the same for Orcas at $eaworld. They endure humans masturbating them so they can make more ‘shamus”. Orcas also need to use their intelligent minds and sonar to strategize and lead their tight-knit family in a hunt for fresh fish over hundreds of miles.
    Both elephants and orcas stay in their family for life unless we take that away form them.
    Just as with $eaWorld, zoos are there becasue they make money, not for conservation or education. Zoos do nothing to stop the decimation of the species. Learning about Elephants or orcas by watching them in captivity is the same as studying humans by watching a man in solitary confinement. All valuable, relevant knowledge about wild animals has come from studying them in the wild. An elephant in a zoo is not an elephant, it is a tradgedy.

  14. Quality, ethical zoos (that’s the distinction) do have a role in conservation in the fact that they help to safely reproduce some very endangered animals that have no habitat in the wild right now due to habitat loss. There is also an education value in the quality, ethically run zoos. It’s not perfect but then again, nothing is. The hope is that some of these endangered animals and sea life can get reintroduced into the wild or a wildlife preserve some day if the wild lands are brought back to the wild they once were, especially if a wildlife preserve is established. I also wanted to correct some of my typos. I understand some animals need to be saved in zoos and wildlife preserves, as long as they are treated well and given a chance to live close to what they would in the wild. There are some endangered wildlife, sea and land animals that need protection and need to reproduce in safety because they are so endangered in the wild because of loss of habitat and poaching. But the killer whales are not one of those such creatures. This time I do not agree with keeping killer whales in pools for the entertainment value and the fact that they are being exploited to benefit other animals. The end does not justify the means. Sea World has plenty of money that, at the very least these remaining captive killer whales could be sent to a marine sanctuary or a sea pen could be created for the remaining captive killer whales to live out their lives, as they haven’t had to hunt or survive in the wild before and lack the knowledge or family groups. There should be no more captive killer whales. The proof is out there that their lifespans are cut short, their teeth are being ruined by chewing on pool doors due to boredom and there is aggression among the killer whales due to the fact they are living in a pool instead of an ocean without their family members and without the ability to hunt for their food. In other words, they are not thriving in captivity, in fact are living shorter, less quality lives in captivity and are not endangered. They have habitat and the way zoos and aquariums first filled up their places of business thankfully is not done any more. Ripping babies from their families or killing the families to get the babies to fill up zoos and aquariums is one of the horrible ironies of the whole “we want to save these creatures” idea. The end does not justify the means. No more killer whales should be bred in captivity. It’s the right and ethical thing to do and a sea pen or marine sanctuary for the remaining captive killer whales would be the right and ethical thing to do.

  15. The Red Wolf is a great example of zoo conservation. In 1980 the Red Wolf was declared extinct in the wild. There were 14 pure blooded Red Wolves in existence at that time. Due to efforts of zoos, primarily the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium in Tacoma, WA, there are now over 200 living in zoos and other breeding facilities and over 100 living in the wild.

    Here is a link to Point Defiance’s page on the Red Wolf.

    http://www.pdza.org/facts-about-red-wolves

    And the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Red Wolf Recovery program.

    http://www.fws.gov/redwolf/index.html#