Where Does SeaWorld Get Their Animals? I Bet You Didn’t Know This

After the controversy with Blackfish, people started to find themselves spending more time wondering about what the heck was going on at Seaworld.

If you’ve seen the documentary, you know that there are many questionable occurrences happening at the various Seaworld locations, but the biggest question that everyone has is: where does Seaworld get their animals?

The fact of the matter is that SeaWorld gets their animals in various ways, but the primary methods are through purchases, rescues, and breeding programs.

These methods allow SeaWorld to obtain and raise all of the animals that you see when you visit one of their iconic location. 

It is up to each person to decide for themselves what they make of these places, but this article is designed to explain how some of their animals are obtained.

SeaWorld definitely buys some of their animals

Much of the controversy surrounding SeaWorld actually involved their focus on purchasing specific kinds of animals. 

SeaWorld is known for making purchases on animals from various sources in order to bring them to visitors that are looking for a day of fun and excitement. 

The actual sources of these animals can be extensive. It is a common practice for any variation of zoo to purchase animals from other zoos, but there are also other ways for these purchases to be made.

These animals can be purchased from rescues and other groups focused around helping and assisting animals.

This makes it a relatively simple business transaction wherein a source alerts buyers who might have an interest, the terms and transportation are discussed, and the sum is paid.

It can be a little odd to think about people buying animals for this sort of purpose, but it is actually a fairly common practice.

The reality is that animals like the ones at SeaWorld can actually fetch a rather high price. 

whale at seaworld

Unfortunately, this does open some potential for concern with certain practices.

Some sources show that companies like this are known for buying animals from a litter of sorts, meaning the babies are taken from their mothers and sold for entertainment.

SeaWorld has accepted animals from rescue efforts

A major part of SeaWorld’s new focus in redeeming their brand was their continuous focus on rescue efforts.

Since SeaWorld is known for employing the sort of people who are trained to work with these animals, it should come as no surprise that they are also known for their extensive animal rescue efforts.

As far as we can tell, this happens in a couple of ways.

SeaWorld not only has their own people and processes in place to manage rehabilitation efforts for animals that need to be rescued from unfortunate circumstances, but they also provide a significant amount of funding and resources to places that are known for rescuing and caring for these animals.

In some instances, a rescued animal might very well get to spend its time as a main attraction at a SeaWorld location after spending some time working to get better.

Since SeaWorld has the locations and resources that make caring for these animals possible, it makes sense why they would be happy to host some of them.

In some cases, the animals that you see might have suffered injury or even been abandoned by parents. 

Though plenty of people question whether or not taking these animals and keeping them for the long term should be considered safe and healthy rehabilitation, plenty of zoo attractions have an area dedicated specifically to this purpose.

In some instances the animals are released and reintroduced, and in others they might stay and be added to an enclosure. This is handled on a case by case basis.

SeaWorld has historically bred animals on site

One point of significant concern with SeaWorld has been the issues with their breeding programs.

These programs were designed to help generate more animals that could be trained and used in various attractions. 

This process is not entirely uncommon, though generally animal sanctuaries and zoos will do this in an effort to preserve a species rather than merely carrying it out for the easy generation of more animal attractions. 

The true controversy behind these programs was built around the conditions being used to do so.

man with killer whale at seaworld

Many people speculate about the health of an animal born into captivity that stands no chance of ever being able to do anything that nature intended.

In addition to this, the animals were known for being artificially inseminated in ways that did not align with nature.

For example, animals were impregnated at a younger age then would be expected, and in several instances, the offspring of these animals were then taken and handed off to other locations. 

Further, the animals were being impregnated at a higher than usual rate that is not necessarily in line with nature, causing animals to undergo unusual physical stress that could lead to health concerns. 

Though many of these controversial programs have been ended, animals that have been bred at Seaworld locations are still being used currently.


There is no lack of controversy and concern around SeaWorld when it comes to how they manage their animals, but the problems stretch well into how they obtain their animals as well.

Though there are a few different kinds of ways for SeaWorld to get the animals that audiences love to watch, some are considered to be a point of larger concern than others.

As people begin to speculate about the practices in place at SeaWorld’s many locations, it is likely that we will start to see the manner with which they obtain their animals continue to change over time.

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