Anyone who’s been to SeaWorld Orlando is familiar with the use of slideouts in the dolphin and orca shows. The marine mammals come up onto the slideouts to interact with trainers during the performances. This behavior is also used behind the scenes for health check-ups and other forms of husbandry.
Last week, there was an outcry when a viral video of one of the park’s rescued pilot whales shot around the internet. In the video, the animal strands itself on a slideout during a weather break in the Blue Horizons show. The audience gets very agitated because none of the trainers come over to immediately help the whale as it struggles to get back into the water. Although not shown in the video, they did come and push it back in.
Getting off and on the slideouts is a routine park of the marine mammals’ life at SeaWorld Orlando. I’ve even witnessed them sliding across the platform at the front of Shamu Stadium for fun before and after the shows. Sure, it’s scary to see what looks like an animal in distress, but the whales and dolphins learn to get back in the water by themselves if they’re left to their own devices before humans intervene.
In the video accompanying this article, Kelly Flaherty Clark of SeaWorld Orlando explains slideout behaviors and the reason why these platforms are used. You’ll see the three adorable pilot whales demonstrating their skill at sliding out and getting back into the water.
The whales are rescued animals, and the park’s rescue team helps a wide variety of distressed birds and marine life. I recently had a chance to witness one of the success stories, as three manatees were sent back into their natural environment after being rehabbed at the park. Jump to this article to see a video of their happy ending.
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