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SeaWorld San Antonio Opens State-of-the-Art Turtle Reef Habitat, Two New Family Thrill Rides

Chuck Cureau |

First-of-its-kind biofiltration system in a zoological setting; plus an up-close look at endangered and rescued sea turtles

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (May 3, 2019) – Today, SeaWorld San Antonio unveiled Turtle Reef™, featuring a first-of-its-kind biofiltration habitat. Guests can get an up-close look at endangered and rescued sea turtles and multi-colored fish, while learning more about the human impact on the oceans. Additionally, the park opened two new thrill rides that further enhance the attraction’s theme of sea turtle conservation.  Riptide Rescue™ is an exciting rescue adventure, taking families on a mission to help save marine animals and Sea Swinger™, a thrilling high swing ride that will launch riders on an arc almost parallel with the ground at the top of its trajectory, before sending them soaring to the same point in the opposite direction—all in mere seconds.

These rides and the turtle habitat mark the fifth-consecutive year that the park has added new attractions.

Turtle Reef’s 126,000-gallon coral reef-themed environment was designed as a natural biofiltration system to build a near natural, environmentally based recirculating filtration system that attracts wildlife and reduces water and energy consumption in the park, enabling the park to further its eco-friendly mission. This biodynamic, multi-species habitat will be inhabited by rescued and non-releasable sea turtles in SeaWorld’s world-class care, including endangered green sea turtles, and Big Mama, a 250-pound loggerhead sea turtle rescued offshore in the Gulf of Mexico after sustaining significant injuries to her front and back flippers.

Dan Ashe is President and CEO of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director. He said, “Turtle Reef exemplifies SeaWorld’s commitment to ocean protection. This amazing exhibit couples endangered sea turtle rescue with an engaging and inspiring guest experience, and employs state-of-the-art, biodynamic filtration. It demonstrates the leadership that modern and accredited aquariums and zoos are providing in saving animals from extinction.”

“Ocean pollution, oil spills and habitat degradation are some of the biggest challenges facing sea turtles, and Turtle Reef provides an immersive opportunity for guests to learn how they can help the species,” said SeaWorld and Aquatica San Antonio park president Carl Lum. “We are excited to showcase a species that has never been featured before at SeaWorld San Antonio, while educating guests about our mission to protect animals and habitats worldwide.”

SeaWorld San Antonio is excited to partner with The University of Texas Marine Science Institute’s Amos Rehabilitation Keep (ARK) as the conservation partner for Turtle Reef. Five percent of the proceeds from the purchase of select turtle merchandise sold at SeaWorld San Antonio will go to toward the non-profit organization whose primary mission is to rescue and rehabilitate sick and injured sea turtles, birds, terrestrial turtles and tortoises found along the South Texas coast.

“We are honored to join SeaWorld San Antonio in our shared commitment to highlight the plight of endangered sea turtles in the wild,” said Dr. Robert Dickey, Director of The University of Texas Marine Science Institute. “This exhibit will help support the wildlife rescue and educational mission of the institute's Amos Rehabilitation Keep (ARK) in Port Aransas, and greatly enhance public understanding of the incredible diversity of marine life that we must help preserve for generations to come.”

SeaWorld San Antonio

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SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc.

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment™ is a leading theme park and entertainment company providing experiences that matter and inspiring guests to protect animals and the wild wonders of our world. The company is one of the world’s foremost zoological organizations and a global leader in animal welfare, behavioral training, husbandry and veterinary care. The company collectively cares for what it believes is one of the largest zoological collections in the world and has helped lead advances in the care of animals. The company also rescues and rehabilitates marine and terrestrial animals that are ill, injured, orphaned or abandoned, with the goal of returning them to the wild. The SeaWorld®rescue team has helped more than 34,000 animals in need over the last 50 years.

The company owns or licenses a portfolio of recognized brands including SeaWorld, Busch Gardens® and Sea Rescue®. Over its more than 50-year history, the company has built a diversified portfolio of 12 destination and regional theme parks that are grouped in key markets across the United States, many of which showcase its one-of-a-kind zoological collection. The company’s theme parks feature a diverse array of rides, shows and other attractions with broad demographic appeal, which deliver memorable experiences and a strong value proposition for its guests.

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment is a wholly owned subsidiary of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc., a publicly traded company. Visit www.seaworldentertainment.com for more information.

About The University of Texas Marine Science Institute’s Amos Rehabilitation Keep (ARK)

The University of Texas Marine Science Institute was the first marine research laboratory founded in Texas. The Institute is dedicated to advancing knowledge of our estuaries, coastal and blue water oceans, training future generations of marine scientists, and raising ocean literacy through diverse education and outreach programs.

Its Amos Rehabilitation Keep (ARK) rehabilitates marine turtles, migratory and marine birds and raptors from the coastal zone of Mustang Island and San Jose Island. Animals that recover are released back to their native habitat. The ARK also strives to educate the community about how they can help with problems our local marine animals face. The ARK has recovered and rehabilitated over 700 sea turtles and 430 birds in 2018.

About Turtle Reef’s BioFiltration System

SeaWorld has some of the most advanced water purification infrastructures in the world built into the foundation of its parks and uses these systems to reclaim and recycle wastewater for reuse. In Turtle Reef, seawater is filtered through a fabricated salt marsh grass wetland, similar to how water is filtered in the environment, and returned to the habitat. This unique filtration method helps reduce water and energy consumption.  

The use of a constructed saltwater marsh to filter the exhibit is a unique example of a biodynamic habitat, using natural elements and processes in an organic way. The team ultimately hopes that the marshland will attract additional wildlife, helping to complete the ecology circle.