Visitors enter SeaWorld San Diego. REUTERS/Mike Blake

SeaWorld Entertainment marked World Oceans Day by announcing a ban on all single-use plastic straws and shopping bags at its 12 theme parks, including SeaWorld San Diego.

“We see the harmful effects of plastic pollution in the animals we rescue and rehabilitate, and therefore, recognize the importance of doing our part to curb plastic pollution,” said John Reilly, interim chief executive officer.

The Ocean Conservancy, a nonprofit environmental advocacy group, estimates that eight million metric tons of plastics enter the ocean each year. Marine animals mistake these plastics for food and become sick or even die.

“Some studies have indicated that more than half of sea turtles out in the wild ingest some form of plastic,” said Jon Peterson, manager of rescue operations at SeaWorld Orlando.

SeaWorld joins a growing number of organizations and governments banning some single-use plastics, including Alaska Airlines and Hilton. Earlier this month City Councilman Chris Ward has proposed a citywide ban in San Diego.

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