SeaWorld Orlando Wild Days and OSHA Conflict

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

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Published on January 20, 2014 at 2:00 am with 37 Comments

SeaWorld Orlando is launching a new annual event called “Wild Weekends” and we’ve got the details for you today. Plus, we’ll share photos of the brand new “Shamu Up Close Experience” as well as park updates and information. But the real scoop of today’s update comes to us from our readers who noticed a little funny business going on which we hope someone will be able to get to the bottom of. At the very least, it’s something which should be causing some serious investigation by OSHA. . .  but not in the way you may be thinking. Read on.

Wild Days

This year, SeaWorld introduced a new special event titled Wild Weekends. Every weekend in January features a different look at the Animals at SeaWorld.  The event was kicked off with Jack Hanna, along with a look behind the scenes look at SeaWorld’s animal rescue programs, trainer talks, a pilot whale pre-show and more.

SeaWorld Rescue Behind the Scenes

SeaRescue, airing Saturdays on ABC, is currently in its 3rd season and has now been seen by over 100,000,000 people worldwide.  To kick of Wild Weekends, SeaWorld gave us a behind the scenes look at the rescue facilities that temporarily house the animals that SeaWorld rescues, rehabilitates and then return to the wild.

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Pilot Whale Pre-show

Those who attended MiceChat’s SeaWorld 40th celebration on December 15th, got a special preview of what was to come for Wild Weekends.  Guests are treated to a short pre-show before Blue Horizons. 4 pilot whales that were orphaned and stranded, and then determined to be non-releasable by the Federal Government, showed off how they are doing. These orphans are now functioning as a little mini pilot whale pod.

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Trainer Talks

Guests watching Clyde and Seamore are treated to a short 15 min trainer talk at the beginning of the show where they speak about the rescue efforts SeaWorld has made with Seals and Sea Lions in on the Pacific Coast.

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Jack Hanna Talks

The big event for Wild Weekends was Jack Hanna.  Jack spoke about the conversation efforts made by SeaWorld around the world, and lesser known rescue projects SeaWorld has been part of.

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New Shamu Up Close

Last month we shared that the Show Pool at Shamu Stadium would be closed for a few months while they refurbish it, and make improvements.  During the refurbishment SeaWorld has also closed the Dine with Shamu experience and replaced it with Shamu Up Close, where guests can leisurely see the Orcas, hear from trainers and see the whales practicing some of their show behaviors.

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Shamu Up Close has been complimented with a refurbishment of the Shamu Underwater Viewing area.

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One Ocean, the Shamu show at SeaWorld, will be down until the construction on the show pool is complete in early to mid April.

Journey to Atlantis Refurbishment

Journey to Atlantis is down for its annual refurbishment as they clean up, paint, and fix show elements.

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OSHA – Who is Lara Padgett?

Since running our Blackfish interviews with Mark Simmons and Bridgett Pirtle last week, we have received a lot of feedback from our readers.  In Bridgett’s interview, there was a picture that included the “Cast of BlackFish” we received a few concerning emails about a person in the pictures.

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One reader asked “Why is Lara Padgett, the OSHA Investigator in Florida, in the picture with the Cast and Crew of Blackfish?”

Lara Padgett FB Snippet

After doing some digging, we learned that Lara Padgett was the lead OSHA Investigator who examined the incident at SeaWorld Orlando on February 24th, 2010.  Since then she has been involved in the investigation and the appeals and testified in April 2013 on behalf of OSHA.  While MiceChat doesn’t know why the lead OSHA investigator would be at the Sundance, New York and Sarasota premiere of Blackfish, along with film Director Gabriela Cowperthwaite, Tim Zimmerman, David Kirby, Samantha Berg, Jeff Ventre, John Jett, and more.

Obviously, this information begs further investigation by news agencies as this looks to us to be a serious conflict of interest at the very least. We’ve reached out to OSHA and Orlando media with the information we were sent by our readers as this story is a bit beyond our scope here at MiceChat. We’re sure that better connected agencies will be able to get to the bottom of this surprising turn of events. We’ll let you know what we learn in our next update.

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Some of the Blackfish team photos show Ms. Padgett with her face blurred out.

New Unofficial SeaWorld Podcast Episode

We have a new episode of the Unofficial Seaworld Podcast to share, where we do a quick year in review and we celebrate the first anniversary of the SeaWorld Podcast. We then interview Clay Carbajal, SeaWorld San Antonio Animal Ambassador, about his trip to Africa for the SeaWorld Busch Gardens Conservation Fund and how the Painted Dogs of Africa project is going.

iTunes | Direct Download | Stitcher Radio

Well folks, that’s our update from SeaWorld Orlando for today. We’ll be back again soon.

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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37 Comments

Comments for SeaWorld Orlando Wild Days and OSHA Conflict are now closed.

  1. Wow Eric! Ms. Padgett is in some serious trouble. Not just a conflict of interest, but SeaWorld may be able to make some legal claims against OSHA and Ms. Padgett as well. This is a VERY serious situation. KUDOS to you and your readers for catching this!

    • Thank you Dusty, there are some serious questions that need to be answered.

  2. Eric,

    Man, you’re on fire. This kind of research you are doing to find out the truth is incredible! May I suggest adding OSHA contact information for those who would like to see what OSHA thinks about this huge conflict of interest.

    • Thank you! The tremendous feedback from everyone has been pushing us forward to keep digging! Now we just need the help from additional media sources.

  3. Dusty, WOW. Watill my SW Team Members get their hands on this info! THANK YOU SO MUCH!

    • You will have to keep us posted! lol

  4. OSHA Florida contact information:

    https://www.osha.gov/oshdir/fl.html

  5. Wow – what a catch from a Micechatter!

    I’m really curious to see where this goes…

    • IT is thanks to our great readers! So many smart people who are helping us.

  6. Great find. Did you let SeaWorld know of this OSHA conflict of interest?

  7. It seems like there is something fishy going on here.

  8. I thought there was something shady about that woman! I noticed shortly after her brave interview with MiceChat, Bridgette Pirtle posted a Facebook status debunking the negative comments of Dr. Naomi Rose regarding Tilikum and Dawn, neither of whom Dr. Rose had ever worked with. All of the comments on Bridgette’s page were uplifting and supportive of her stance, except for one- Lara Padgett, who said: “Bridgette, I hate it that you speak so ill of Dr. Rose. Have you even met the lady?!? I consider her a dear friend and is actually the smartest person I have ever met” ….I wondered immediately what her connections were…glad to see it is coming to light. As always, amazing investigative work Eric!!

    • Jessica: Read David Kirby’s book Death at SeaWorld. Seriously. I’m actually recommending this anti-SeaWorld book because it expands on your comment. It explains the link between Padgett and Dr. Rose, the former trainers, Dr. Marino, and a few other individuals in the free orca movement.

      • Wow.I will definitely have to check it out then. Thanks!

  9. BlackFISHY…never been more relevant then now. This is extremely suspicious and warrants a great deal more investigation! Bravo Eric, and everyone who helped bring this to light. Blackfish’s credibility as a documentary continues to slide.

  10. I’m just surprised that even Sea World can’t stop calling them “killer whales.”

    • Thank you. My sentiments exactly…

  11. bravo to discovering the link! I hope this is followed up. My only concern is the decision to show the FB profile since personal photos may be on her profile (I didn’t look but I know a lot of people tend to have family photos on FB).

    • From FB’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities: When you publish content or information using the Public setting, it means that you are allowing everyone, including people off of Facebook, to access and use that information, and to associate it with you (i.e., your name and profile picture).

      • Irrespective of “right or wrong” it is still the decision of the journalist to include or exclude material that involves the children of the subject. In this specific case they made the choice to include FB. That choice also included photos of the kids. Yes… she is responsible for those photos being there… but Micechat is responsible for drawing substantially more attention to that profile.

        Tech savvy individuals could have searched FB on their own and come across the same profile. I am BETTING if someone linked to said profile on here there would be a backlash from the MC admin concerning identifying individuals… but the decision was made within this article to show her FB profile! And I was right… her kids were on her cover photo. I did not “dig” deeper but the potential is there for additional personal photos.

        Her choice to post the photos publicly, Micechat’s choice to bring them to a much wider audience.

  12. Nice work as always Eric. I always knew something was fishy about blackfish. I really hope the traditional media does some serious investigating and accurate reporting on this.

  13. What is amazing to me is this relationship isn’t even being hidden it’s out there for everyone to see. Which questions why no one has picked up on this story until Eric and MiceChat posted the picture. SeaWorld surely now has to respond to this with legal action.

  14. Maybe Lara was interviewed for the movie and whether the footage was used
    or not got interested in seeing the thing through, so went to a few premieres to
    enjoy the opportunity. How do we know for sure this would violate her job description
    at OSHA? I haven’t seen the movie, but it’s only the latest on an old subject matter.
    None of this matters compared to the alleged mistreatment and imprisonment of
    highly intelligent creatures for human entertainment no less, causing shortened life
    spans, and ripping apart family orca units.
    What business is it of ours if a few lies were told to get this film in the can, and that
    would in no way negate whatever truths the film successfully delivers.
    It’s time to trust Sea World’s legal defense team.

    • It is doubtful that she was interviewed for the movie as she refused interview requests for other media, including Voice of the Orcas, the group of former SeaWorld trainers featured in the film. Any interviews she did participate in – before, during, or after the case – would require the consent of OSHA’s Office of Public Affairs. Additionally, according to the film’s producer, she was not involved at all in its production.

  15. One of the film’s producers, Tim Zimmermann, tweeted this morning “Course @LaraPadgett interested in #Blackfish/#SeaWorld trainers. Her job. But zero to do w/@blackfishmovie prod.” I’m assuming that means she was there to speak with the trainers as part of her investigation. Now here’s where I’m getting confused. There are photos of her at three different events – the Sundance Film Festival, the film’s premiere at MOMA in NY, and the Sarasota Film Festival. At each, she’s on the red carpet. So does this mean our tax dollars have paid for this woman to travel to these events to interview expert witnesses in the age of skype? And is walking the red carpet part of her government job? Then, there’s the fact that Judge Welsch made his decision on the OSHA case in May 2012, before any of these events took place. So, I want to believe that her investigation had already been closed. I also want to believe that since the case has been in appeal for some time and because she is a testifying witness in the appeals trial that hanging around at film festivals with people that might sway her opinion just might be a tad unethical. But I’m really confused on this one because on the surface, it makes no sense. This could be nothing. I don’t know. But it’s awfully interesting.