Sea Lion Sea Lion
Animal Rescue

Leading the Way

With a legacy of animal rescue spanning more than 50 years and benefiting more than 28,000 animals, responding to wildlife in crisis is a commitment we take to heart. Working in partnership with state, local, and federal agencies, our rescue teams are on call 24/7 assisting animals that are orphaned, ill, injured or in need of expert care.

Our goal is to successfully rehabilitate animals for return to the wild. The small percentage of animals whose injuries are too debilitating to permit release are given lifelong care.

Our passionate team relies on expertise and creativity to devise new ways to rescue, treat, and return to nature these extraordinary animals. No rescue, no case is ever the same. SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment™ experts have  created nutritional formulas and custom nursing bottles to hand-feed orphaned animals; imaginative ways to save sea turtles with cracked shells; prosthetic beaks for injured birds; and even an “animal wetsuit” to help an injured manatee stay afloat and warm.


  • 1963 Hubbs–SeaWorld® Research Institute opens with a commitment “to return to the sea some measure of the benefits derived from it.”
  • 1964 SeaWorld opens in San Diego, Calif., where our first animal rescue team is formed.
  • 1976 SeaWorld Orlando rescues its first manatee.
  • 1980 First bottle-raised orphaned manatee, Marina is rescued, successfully rehabilitated, and released.
  • 1989 5,000-pound Bryde’s whale is rehabilitated after around-the-clock care and returned to the wild.
  • 1997 JJ, an orphaned gray whale calf, begins her 14-month rehabilitation. She is the largest rescued animal ever returned to the wild.
  • 2000 SeaWorld helps save more than 20,000 oiled penguins and nearly 700 orphaned penguin chicks affected by the Treasure oil spill in South Africa. The same year the SeaWorld Oiled Wildlife Care Center, a public-private partnership for environmental stewardship, is formed.
  • 2003 The SeaWorld & Busch Gardens® Conservation Fund is established. The Fund has since granted more than $10 million to projects around the world.
  • 2005 After Hurricane Katrina, SeaWorld rescues 14 injured or displaced sea lions.
  • 2010 More than 300 cold-stunned, endangered sea turtles are rehabilitated after suffering the effects of record-setting cold—one of the largest rescue events in SeaWorld history.
  • 2010 SeaWorld Animal Rescue Team assists wildlife affected by the BP oil spill, including more than 100 endangered sea turtles.
  • 2011 SeaWorld Animal Rescue Team helps rescue and care for a large group of pilot whales that had beached just north of Key West, Fla. Two of the surviving whales were returned to the open ocean. SeaWorld is providing a permanent home for one of the other survivors.
  • 2012 Around Valentine's Day, SeaWorld San Diego rescued a young sea lion with a severe bullet wound to her flipper after being shot by fishermen. The sea lion, named by SeaWorld staff as Valentine, had the bullet removed by SeaWorld veterinarians and was successfully rehabilitated and returned to the ocean.
  • 2013 After a mass stranding event in St. Lucie county, FL in 2012, SeaWorld Orlando successfully rehabilitates three young pilot whales.