Lindy Donahue, a trainer at SeaWorld San Diego’s Dolphin Point exhibit, said the 1,500 employees who care for animals at the park are “extremely passionate” about the health and well-being of their animals.
“Like my colleagues, I have poured my heart into my career with these animals,” Donahue said at a news conference in downtown San Diego. “I am most joyful when I’m spending one-on-one time with them, and when I get the honor to share them with our guests.”
SeaWorld called the news conference after PETA announced it had filed a new complaint — at least its third this year — with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The latest complaint says a veterinarian affiliated with the animal-rights group found scars and lesions on whales and dolphins at the theme park on Mission Bay.
One of the SeaWorld veterinarians, Todd Schmitt, said the park is accredited every five years by two organizations that oversee theme parks and is subject to two or three unannounced inspections each year by the Agriculture Department.
Schmitt and fellow veterinarian Hendrik Nollens questioned the experience of the PETA veterinarian who made the latest claims. They said marks on marine mammals are common occurrences and not a sign of abuse.
“We are the true animal advocates,” Schmitt said. “When there’s a stranded animal on the beach or a whale entangled by fish line, the public doesn’t call PETA. They call SeaWorld because they know we have the resources to take care of that animal and provide the best care possible.”
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