ORLANDO, Fla., Sept. 23, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Winter, the flippered star of the new movie "Dolphin Tale," will bring much-deserved attention this weekend to wildlife rescue efforts on behalf of marine mammal facilities around the world. The SeaWorld Rescue Team – which also helped with the initial rescue transport of Winter – is currently caring for an array of ill, injured and orphaned wild marine animals, each with its own against-all-odds story. Like those passionate individuals who helped Winter, this team uses their expertise and creativity every day to devise new ways to rescue, treat and return to nature these extraordinary animals. No rescue, no case is ever the same.
Few are aware that SeaWorld operates one of the world's most respected wildlife rescue programs and has treated more than 18,000 animals over the last four decades. The goal for every rescue is to be able to successfully return the animal.
The team has created nutritional formulas and custom bottles to hand-feed orphaned animals; imaginative ways to help save sea turtles with cracked shells; prosthetic beaks for injured birds; and even an "animal wetsuit" to help an injured manatee stay afloat. Examples of this ingenuity at work include:
- Currently, a team of animal experts at SeaWorld Orlando is performing hands-on physical therapy on a once-stranded pilot whale. The whale has scoliosis, or curvature of the spine, that developed approximately five weeks after her early-May rescue and has created a sharp angle in her spine that prevents her from swimming normally. The physical therapy, performed three times a day, includes stretching the whale's muscles and working her tail fluke up and down. It's hoped the therapy sessions will allow her to regain proper and more normal use of her tail.
- SeaWorld animal experts were the first to bottle raise an orphaned manatee and have also developed "baby formulas" for rescued whales, sea lions and seals.
- Sometimes the innovation comes not in the equipment, but in the training. When a severely injured loggerhead sea turtle arrived at SeaWorld Orlando missing its lower jaw and suffering from starvation, park turtle experts taught the emaciated animal a new way to eat with only its upper jaw. The process took months, and the turtle gradually progressed from hand-feedings to independent eating skills.
- The innovative care also extends to the park's animal population. SeaWorld veterinarians went to extraordinary lengths to preserve the life of Dottie, one of the park's Atlantic bottle nose dolphins. Dottie went into kidney failure due to complications from kidney stones, but by working with "human" doctors from UC San Diego Medical Center, her life was saved through medical procedures never before performed on a dolphin including dialysis.
A global leader in animal care and conservation, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment cares for more than 60,000 animals including 200 endangered or threatened species. This commitment extends to animals around the world: The company has contributed more than $50 million to conservation, wildlife rescue and environmental stewardship initiatives and has supported efforts on every continent, as well as operating its own well-respected wildlife rescue program. The SeaWorld Rescue Team is on call 24/7 to help animals in need.
SOURCE SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment