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SeaWorld Receives American Humane Certified Seal of Approval

May 1, 2018
Following a comprehensive, third-party audit, we’re proud to be recognized for the treatment of the animals in our care

Animal Care Staff Hugging Walrus

Alongside nearly two dozen other leading zoos & aquariums, SeaWorld is proud to announce that SeaWorld Orlando, SeaWorld San Antonio and SeaWorld San Diego are now certified by American Humane.

To receive these certifications, each SeaWorld park underwent an extensive audit process, which included on-site visits and direct observation of both the animal encounters and behind-the-scenes facilities. Auditors not only examine habitats, but the animals themselves – ensuring they are well-fed, well-cared for and in good health.

Launched in 2016 and developed by independent, respected veterinarians and experts in animal welfare, animal science, zoology, and ethics, the American Humane standards serve as a benchmark of humane care to which institutions can aspire. While the program itself is new, American Humane is far from it. As the country’s first national humane organization, American Humane was founded in 1877 and has evolved into the world’s largest certifier of the welfare and humane treatment of animals since then. Its standards comprise the first-ever certification program solely devoted to helping verify the humane treatment of animals living in zoos, aquariums, and conservation centers around the world.

“With countless Americans concerned about the treatment of animals, it’s more important than ever to bring all institutions to the highest level of animal welfare — and shine a bright light on the facilities that are already upholding admirable standards of care,” explains Robin Ganzert, CEO of American Humane. “American Humane’s robust certification program, Humane Conservation, does just that. The program helps define, through rigorous science and evidence-based practices, the highest animal welfare and well-being standards for animals in human care.”

With only 2.3 percent of zoos and aquariums accredited around the world in 2008, American Humane created these standards to leverage its expertise and ensure that the welfare and treatment of animals at these institutions be verified.

To learn more about the American Humane certification, keep reading below:


Why are zoos and aquariums important?

Zoological parks and aquariums like SeaWorld offer the public unique opportunities to experience and learn about animals and the challenges they face firsthand. At SeaWorld, our focus is to educate and inspire visitors within the parks, in order to protect these animals and their habitats across the world. 


What exactly do the auditors look for?

American Humane’s extensive criteria verify the many dimensions of animal welfare and well-being. Areas of evaluation include excellent health and housing, positive social interactions within groups of animals and between animals and handlers, safe and stimulating environments – with concern for factors such as appropriate lighting, sound levels, air quality, and thermoregulation – and evidence of thorough preparation and protocols to prevent and manage medical or operational emergencies. You can find the full list here.

In addition to these key indicators of animal welfare, the program includes three essential, non-negotiable criteria that must be met to pass the audit. These categories are scored higher than the others, and they underlie the entire audit process:

  • No Animal Abuse
  • Appropriate Health Plan (i.e., care of sick, injured animals) and Implementation
  • Staff Conduct that Promotes Animal Welfare

Failure to meet any one of these requirements results in immediate failure of the audit.


Why do we need another certification program when we already have American Zoological Association (AZA) accreditation? Why would a zoo want to be certified by American Humane as well?

In an age where consumers demand transparency, American Humane developed its certification program to supplement AZA accreditations, not to replace them. Through the use of independent, third party auditors, these standards verify the humane treatment of animals – providing the additional accreditation that ethically-driven visitors are looking for.

It is important to note also that animal care and welfare at SeaWorld is also highly regulated by the U.S. government, with frequent random inspections by federal veterinarians and other officials. SeaWorld passes strict licensing requirements every year, and our high standard of animal care is part of our larger commitment to the conservation of wildlife and habitats everywhere. 


How can an institution that allows people to ride dolphins/other animals be certified as humane?

In-water interactions with dolphins and land-based interactions with other species are designed to be enriching to the animal participants, and educational and engaging to the people. As part of an on-site assessment, the American Humane certification program reviews these activities to confirm animal choice and good welfare practices. Besides being enriching for the animals, these programs offer up-close and personal experiences for visitors that often inspire renewed passion in conservation efforts.


Who are some of the other organizations to be certified?

Some of the nation’s most respected zoological facilities have earned the American Humane certification. To learn more about them, visit