SeaWorld San Diego
SeaWorld’s 50th Celebration sculpture. Photo credit: Mike Aguilera/SeaWorld San Diego

The name PETA didn’t come up, but a SeaWorld executive told business and political leaders Friday that the landmark San Diego park is the real friend of animals in today’s world.

“The wild is a threatened place,” said SeaWorld San Diego President John Reilly, arguing that the park’s dedicated animal-care staff can help threatened species survive and flourish.

SeaWorld President John Reilly. Courtesy SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment

“I’m very proud of SeaWorld, and we’re not backing down,” he said the crowd of several hundred. “We have no intention of allowing anyone to close all zoos and aquariums.

“The best thing we can do at SeaWorld is let our employees tell their story about how they care for animals.”

Reilly was a keynote speaker at the South County Economic Development Council‘s 24th annual economic summit at the San Diego Convention Center.

SeaWorld is celebrating it’s 50th anniversary this year, and also fighting back against criticism from from PETA and a Los Angeles-area state legislator, who Reilly said was inspired by “a movie fraught with flaws.”

He said the company is moving forward with its $100 million Blue World Project to double that amount of water devoted to killer whales at the San Diego park.

He said SeaWorld’s mission is to “inspire people to care about the animals in the natural world we share.”

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.