SeaWorld San Antonio announces Aquatica Texas

SeaWorld recently announced plans to build another Aquatica water park. More than just a traditional water park, SeaWorld San Antonio’s new Aquatica Texas will include thrilling water slides, serene rivers, a large sandy beach area, and animal encounters.

Among the new water rides, Stingray Rapids sounds the most interesting. The 5 seat raft ride is described as the only one of its kind in the World. It will feature twists and turns with an underground grotto and where guests will see with tropical fish and stingrays. Another stand out may be Wahalla Wave a family raft ride with a zero-gravity wall providing riders a roller coaster-like sense of weightlessness. Aquatica Texas is scheduled to open in May 2012.


SeaWorld prepares to put trainers back in the water with killer whales

One Ocean at SeaWorld - Killer Whale ShowA year after the fatal accident involving trainer Dawn Brancheau, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment has announced that they are preparing to put trainers back in the water during their killer whale shows. Trainers have not been permitted in the water since the incident involving their largest orca named Tilikum.

SeaWorld will not give an exact date of when in-water performances will resume, but they are laying the groundwork. The company plans to spend millions of dollars on a number of safety devices aimed at preventing another tragic incident. Some of the safety measures include: the installation of fast rising pool floors, remote-controlled underwater distraction devices, and outfits with emergency air supplies.

For now, the trainers will only interact with the orcas in small medical pools already outfitted with false-bottom floors. So, SeaWorld’s new show, “One Ocean”, will not feature trainers swimming with the killer whales right away. Trainers will conduct the show entirely from the stage. “One Ocean” is set to begin in April at SeaWorld Orlando, on Memorial Day at SeaWorld San Diego, and in June at SeaWorld San Antonio. The Orlando Sentinel has more.


SeaWorld San Diego announces Manta roller coaster for 2012

SeaWorld San Diego recently announced plans for a new roller coaster set to open in 2012. The new highly-themed attraction will be called Manta and it will incorporate a marine-life exhibit. The ride will start with a tunnel boasting huge high-tech projection screens. The screens will project larger than life images of rays aimed at enhancing the ride’s opening launch that will send the manta-themed trains rocketing down the track.

Unlike, the high-flying Manta at SeaWorld Orlando, San Diego’s Manta will be a launch coaster that will stay close to and below the ground. It will have a modest height of 30 feet, a longest drop of 54 feet (as it drops below the ground), and a relatively gentle top speed of 46 mph via a magnetic launch system.

Some roller coaster fans are dissapointed in the new coaster’s less than extreme stats. While this Manta coaster could be categorized as a family roller coaster, fans have to remember not every new attraction is going to thrill your pants off. Given that the park was limited by the area’s extremely low height restrictions and SeaWorld Park’s track record of highly themed and immersive roller coasters, Manta looks to be a solid addition. Below is an animated video of Manta without the ride’s theming and marine-life exhibit.


Tommy Lee wants to make SeaWorld sex tape

Tommy Lee continues his campaign against SeaWorld's whale breeding practices

Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee has thought a lot about whale masturbation this week.

Lee contends that to obtain sperm for breeding purposes, SeaWorld has someone “masturbate” Tillikum, a killer whale at the theme park who was responsible for the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau earlier this year.

Lee says it is “sick and twisted,” and that it violates SeaWorld’s own policies regarding trainer and whale interaction, which were revised after Brancheau’s death.

On Wednesday, SeaWorld responded to the rocker’s letter complaining about whale breeding practices by saying that Lee needs to “spend more time checking his facts.”

So, in a second letter — which PETA sent to Gadling today — Lee suggests that the best way to check his facts would be to come to Orlando and see the collection of whale semen for himself.

“To settle this, how about PETA and I come to SeaWorld and videotape the process, and then people can decide how natural it is?” Lee writes.

“It might make your dramatic news releases about a new orca pregnancy or birth less appealing, but the public deserves to know. And they’ve undoubtedly never seen a sex tape like this.”

Manual stimulation of animals is a regular breeding practice used with livestock and with some species at zoos and aquariums.

[Image credit: Flickr user Bread & CBG]

Rocker Tommy Lee angered over whale masturbation *UPDATED*

tommy lee whale

Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee is angry — really angry — about the way Shamu is being treated at SeaWorld.

In a letter to SeaWorld Orlando, Lee complains about the methods used by the theme park to obtain sperm from Tillikum – the orca responsible for the death of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau this spring.

Tillikum was brought to SeaWorld Orlando specifically for breeding purposes in 1998. He continues to appear in Shamu shows there and to be used in killer whale breeding programs.

PETA, an organization which Lee has long supported, has called for the whale’s release back into the wild.

Lee calls Tillikum SeaWorld’s “chief sperm bank.”

“We know from SeaWorld’s own director of safety (as well as videos on the web) that the way you get his sperm is by having someone get into the pool and masturbate him with a cow’s vagina filled with hot water,” Lee wrote in the letter obtained by TMZ.

“Even in my wildest days with Motley Crue, I never could’ve imagined something so sick and twisted.”

As bizarre as it may sound, manual stimulation of animals is a regular breeding method used by zoos and aquariums for certain species.

Thomas French’s 2010 book Zoo Story documents the manual stimulation of a bull elephant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom to obtain the sperm used to impregnate a female elephant at Lowry Park Zoo in Tampa.

UPDATE: SeaWorld Orlando has responded to the breeding methods mentioned in Lee’s letter, and they say he’s got it all wrong.

Fred Jacobs, vice president of communications for SeaWorld told E! News that 25 of the 27 orca calves born at the theme park were conceived naturally, and the process of collecting semen for the two calves born through artificial insemination is similar to that used in breeding livestock or in programs at zoos.

Lee “contends that semen is collected from Tilikum using a ‘cow’s vagina filled with hot water.’ This is beyond ludicrous. Whatever his views on SeaWorld, Mr. Lee would be wise to spend more time checking his facts,” Jacobs said.

[Image credit: Flickr user Hyku]