Christina Johnson

A speculative and one-sided documentary that inaccurately depicts SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. as irresponsible toward animals in its charge has led to concert-performance cancellations and misplaced anger. The film has unfairly targeted an outstanding corporate and community partner that has been stellar in its conservation.

SeaWorld is a world leader in its preservation efforts through the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund. It has contributed millions of dollars to wildlife research, habitat protection, animal rescue and conservation education. SeaWorld also supports the efforts of many national and international organizations, including the National Wildlife Federation, World Wildlife Fund, and The Nature Conservancy.

In fact, SeaWorld is often the first responder when rescue efforts are vital for ill, orphaned and injured animals, and it has proudly done so for decades, participating in thousands of animal rescues. Plus, SeaWorld is in the business of education through the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute, with a mission “to return to the sea some measure of the benefits derived from it.”

SeaWorld has 11 parks in five states, and recently chose Central Florida as the permanent home for its corporate headquarters. Between Orlando and Tampa, SeaWorld has five parks that provide more than 10,000 full-time and part-time positions. Many of these employees take active leadership roles in their communities and places of worship.

SeaWorld also supports hundreds of philanthropic efforts with a focus on children, education and the environment. I’m proud to acknowledge that this well-respected company continues to be a strong supporter of the Central Florida Partnership, helping to advance our regional priorities of enriching Central Floridians’ lives.

The unfounded arguments targeting SeaWorld, often orchestrated by national groups, are impacting our families, friends and neighbors. These employees are working to support their families and pay for a better education. They are proud to call Central Florida home, and we are proud Central Florida is home to SeaWorld.

SeaWorld is a trusted name and a longtime community employer, a powerful leader in Florida’s largest industry, and a mainstay of the regional economy. It’s time we tell the whole story about SeaWorld, and recognize its dedication to “celebrating, connecting and caring” for its customers, our communities and the world.

Jacob Stuart is president of the Central Florida Partnership.

By Jacob Stuart
Orlando Sentinel My Word
December 27, 2013

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/opinion/os-ed-defending-seaworld-myword-122713-20131226,0,3897424.story

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