This special SeaWorld story comes to us from Hayley. We are pleased to share it with our readers.
I was born and raised in Los Angeles, as soon as my parents started bringing me out into the environment they noticed that I already had a keen interest in going to the beach. They started taking me to Sea World twice a year for a very long time and as soon as my 6 year old self realized what a “career” was, I knew I was going to be a Shamu trainer. We all started going to Sea World about six times a year and pressing my face to the glass at the underwater viewing area of San Diego’s Shamu stadium never ever got old. I shook a trainer’s hand once and vowed to never wash that hand again (well at least for the next 16 hours until my mom finally made me). Fast-forward 10 years and I am arriving at the residential Sea World summer career camp. After this camp my eyes were wide open to my opportunities and I knew exactly what I could do and what I had to do. The penguins intrigued me, and the seals and sea lions captured my heart and every camper said I had the sense of humor to be a sea lion and otter trainer. The day I drove home from camp I signed up for a marine biology academy at the Dana Point Ocean Institute. I was offered an animal husbandry internship opportunity and I was hesitant to take it (Dana Point is 2 hours away from my home). Sadly my grandfather, who was dying of cancer, saw me struggle with the decision to take the internship. His last words to his son (my dad) were to tell me that I NEEDED to take that internship. Thus I did, the man who introduced me to Jacques Cousteau and National Geographic couldn’t be wrong. This is my second consecutive year of my internship where I wake up at 5:45am to drive to Dana Point on the weekends to report for duty. I have/am doing psychological research with horn sharks and caring for the quarantined animals. Marine biology is my thing, And Sea World initiated it. I began modeling for large companies and the makeup artitst always wanted to know more about killer whales as they touched up my eyebrows. Recently I was approached about a movie called Blackfish that should “supposedly” change my mind about Sea World, but the opposite happened. The first time I saw the movie I took 2 pages of notes about things that I knew were incorrect. I argued with teachers who felt that the movie was absolutely true, and no one from Sea World had come out to support me until the words of Bridgette Pirtle pierced the silence, then Mark Simmons, and Kyle Kittleson. I was in good company. In the career camp I dealt with over 17,000lbs of cleaned and pristine fish just for the whales. In the end I know my place is at Sea World, one movie won’t change that, three death threats won’t change that, and nothing I know will change that. After I pursue my degree in psychology & undergrad in exotic animal training I hope to be in close contact with Sea World and my favorite whale, Nakai. Sea World touched my heart, and my best friend who has decided to pursue marine biology because I touched her heart.
Thank you for sharing with us, Hayley. If YOU also have a special SeaWorld story to share with us, please send it to email@example.com.