Sea World began with George Millay in 1962 as an idea of an underwater restaurant. This idea panned out, but grew in other directions instead and so Millay, along with three of his UCLA fraternity brothers, formed a group to design and construct a marine life park. Sea World first opened on March 21, 1964 on Mission Bay in San Diego, California. It was only 22 acres of land, and had saltwater aquariums and a few shows.
The park grew with the acquisition of Shamu, a female orca in 1965. The name "Shamu" is today trademarked and is used as Sea World's mascot. She was kept in a small pool with another orca (Kilroy?) and later in 1971 they built the first Shamu stadium, which today is the dolphin stadium.
Three other parks were created. First in Aurora, Ohio in 1970, which were followed by parks in Orlando, Florida in 1978 and San Antonio, Texas in 1988. Discovery Cove, which houses many species of fish and also dolphins, opened in 2000.
Millay left the park, selling it in 1976 to Harcort, Brace, and Jovanovich, a publishing company. HBJ later went and bought out Marineland of the Pacific in January of 1987, promising not to move the animals there, and within days moved all the inhabitants of the park to various Sea World parks. By 1989, HBJ was deep into debt, and needed to sell the parks. Busch Entertainment, Inc, a subsidiary of Anheuser Busch, bought the four parks and operates them to this day.
On September 29, 2000, Sea World celebrated its 100,000,000 visitor since its opening at the San Diego, California park.
In January of 2000, Anheusuer Busch sold Sea World of Ohio to Six Flags. Two orcas, the Commerson's dolphins and penguins were sent to Sea World of California, one orca was sent to Sea World of Texas, and the bottlenose dolphins to Sea World of Florida.
Edward H. Bean Awards
These awards are given by the AAZPA (American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums), in recognition of outstanding propegation programs of a species at a zoo or aquarium. Sea World has been recognized several times for the following accomplishments:
1979 - Penguin propagation program
1980 - Hatching of emperor penguin
1983 - King and emporer penguins propagation program
1985 - First successful killer whale birth
Other Notable Events
1971 - Gigi, a grey whale, was taken into captivity for a year for research
(sighted in 1991 and was previously sighted with a calf)
1972 - Extensive research by Frank Todd in the Antartic on penguins
1992 - First blacktip reef shark born in an American aquarium