Parents have a tough balancing act when it comes to indulging our kids’ passion for connecting with animals and deciding what is right based on our family values. Two well-known organizations have made some pretty big steps in a direction that makes those judgment calls a little easier.
SeaWorld San Diego
Amid much controversy (and tragic events we have all seen in the news the past few years), SeaWorld recently announced a change in their programming and policies for the future. The park will no longer engage in theatrical-style shows with their orcas, opting for an animal education demonstration that removes trainers from the water and showcases a more natural look at what these great creatures are all about. They have also stopped their orca breeding program, starting down the path to a new future when it comes to captive whales.
SeaWorld is not all about “Shamu”. Since 1980, more than 500 penguin chicks have been hatched and raised, including the first-ever chinstrap and emperor penguins (the world’s only successful emperor penguin breeding colony outside the Antarctic.). Visitors can arrange for animal encounters to connect with penguins and visit the rehab and rescue center, where they rescued over 1,000 animals last year and work with Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach.
“I Want to Do THAT when I Grow Up!”
For parents looking for a unique camp experience that will help shape a child’s interests in a future with animal care, SeaWorld offers residential camp with up-close, hands-on experiences with marine animals. Feed Frenzy and Animal Antics camps for younger students offer a combination of animal encounters and nature excursions, as well as time to enjoy exciting rides and shows. If your child is too young for sleepaway, Ocean Wonders is a day camp that gets campers up-close to their favorite animals.
Older students can try out a future dream-job with Career Camps, working side-by-side with the zoological team as they monitor animal health and behavior, help prepare food and learn about the fields of veterinary science, animal training and conservation. Advanced Career Camps provide an inside look at the who, what, why and how of working with animals if a career in animal health, behavior or care is something they’d like to do later in life.
Resident campers stay in dorms inside the park, with aquatic field trips to try surfing, kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding. Counselors supervise campers 24 hours a day and all camps are accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA) which assures that camp practices have been measured against national standards and go beyond a state’s basic licensing requirement.
Where We Stay: Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina
While you can certainly do the drive down to SeaWorld and back in a day from OC, we prefer to kick back after a full day of rides and marine experiences and make a weekend of it. Just having undergone a major renovation, the luxury hotel offers the perfect place to relax after a long day of feathers, fins and coasters. Enjoy sunset with gorgeous view of the city and harbor, and spend the next day surrounded by swaying palms at the resort-style pool area filled with family-friendly games and activities. An easy stroll up the boardwalk offers fun boutiques and cafes.
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus
We received your letter expressing concern for the welfare of the performing elephants and have declined to feature the popular circus in recent years. However, this spring, The Feld Family, owners of the parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, announced that all of the Asian elephants from their traveling circus units would be moved to their permanent home at the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida by May. They have now joined the rest of the Ringling Bros. herd of Asian elephants, for a total of 42 at the Conservation Center.
The elephants’ move to Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation will allow the company to focus on its Asian elephant conservation program and the pediatric cancer research partnership with Dr. Joshua Schiffman of Primary Children’s Hospital and The Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City, Utah, all while continuing to provide a unique family experience at the circus with the next edition of The Greatest Show On Earth, celebrating its 145 year history by now focusing on performers and acts not involving these amazing creatures. The circus will be in the SoCal area throughout July, and in Anaheim July 29 – August 07.