September 30th 2017 | General Curator

Brad Andrews

Brad Andrews an animal keeper at Marineland of the Pacific as well as the Chief Zoological Officer responsible for all animal programs in SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Parks.

00:00:00 - 00:00:31

My name is Brad Andrews. I was born in Englewood, California in 1949. And tell me about your childhood growing up. I grew up with two other brothers in Redondo Beach, California, and was a surfer and loved the ocean and played lots of sports and had a good time. And, you know, nothing catastrophic happened in my childhood. It was a fun time, and I just evolved with the friendships that I had and it was a great time.

00:00:32 - 00:00:35

What did your parents do when you were (indistinct)?

00:00:35 - 00:00:56

My father was a Los Angeles City fireman, and also a cement contractor, because, as you know, fireman only worked every fourth day or every third day or something like that. And he had to have other income to support the family and keep my mother from going to work. But it worked out well, and he was a hard working man and I really had a lot of respect for him.

00:00:59 - 00:01:05

As a kid, were you able to visit zoos or aquariums?

00:01:05 - 00:01:46

No, I was not. I never really went to a zoo or aquarium when I was a kid, not at all. In fact, in 1972, after I had gotten out of school, my father was doing some cement contracting work at Marineland of the Pacific. And so I was helping him, and he was telling the general manager that I was good with animals. And (chuckles) I’m not sure what he meant. We had a dog and a cat at home, but he asked me if I wanted to work there and I said, “Sure.” So that was it. In fact, he asked me, he said, “Would you ride on the back of a killer whale?” And I said, “Sure.” And to be honest, I didn’t even know what a killer whale was.

00:01:46 - 00:01:47

How old were you?

00:01:47 - 00:01:54

I was 22 years old at the time. And you had never been to a zoo or aquarium before that. Never had.

00:01:56 - 00:01:58

And the only animals you had were?

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A dog and a cat and the stuff I saw in the ocean.

00:02:01 - 00:02:03

Did you bring stuff home?

00:02:03 - 00:02:14

We used to, we used to fish a lot and bring starfish and things like that. I mean, the realization of dead starfish hanging on nets in your patio sort of hit me as I got older and realized that was really a dumb thing to do.

00:02:17 - 00:02:22

So when did you realize you wanted to work with animals?

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Was it at that exact point when someone offers you a job?

00:02:25 - 00:02:50

It was exactly at that point. I had gone to school. I wanted to be a dentist and I was in pre-medicine and pre-dentistry. And I had a very low lottery number my senior year of college and I was gonna get drafted. And I’d already gone for my physical. And I finally graduated in June of ’71. And the draft board was in Southern California. And they filled their quota and I missed it, luckily enough, by two.

00:02:50 - 00:02:53

So I didn’t have to go to Vietnam.

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But I had a BS in biology and I’m thinking, “What am I gonna do?

00:02:58 - 00:03:44

What kind of a career do I wanna?” So I thought, “Well, I’ll go back to grad school.” And then I thought, “Ah, that’s not a good idea. I’ve got plenty of student loans and I’m up to here with the debt.” So I stumbled into this job that I talked about. And it was the first time. So I started working in the fish house, bucketing fish at 4:30 in the morning. And I stuck it out there for about a year. And many, many mornings, you know, I’ve got my (indistinct) smell like fish and I get cold and it’s freezing. And I’m thinking, “I went to college to do this?” But then, I progressed. I became a keeper, I took care of walruses and harbor seals and took care of dolphins and penguins.

00:03:44 - 00:04:31

And then I learned how to train animals. And then I started to do a lot of different things with some of the stranded animals, because in Southern California, you have a lot of sea lions and elephant seals that come up on the beach sick. And all they would do is they would try and get them to eat, but there was no real triage process that went on. So I basically learned how to force-feed small pinnipeds by myself so that they could eat dead food. Now, I wanna talk in more detail about all of the things that you’ve just mentioned, but I wanna go back. So your schooling was not graduate work, but undergraduate. because I finished at St. Mary’s College, which is just east of Berkeley in Moraga, California. I imagine you’re one of their more famous alumni.

00:04:31 - 00:04:44

Well, I’m certainly in their hall of fame for rugby, and, sure, a lot of people send me notes all the time about the work I’ve done all the last 45 years. Yeah, but it’s a great school.

00:04:44 - 00:04:57

So do you believe that your initial interest in marine mammals, as opposed to terrestrial animals, came from this first unique encounter?

00:04:57 - 00:05:15

Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, I love terrestrial animals too. And, you know, later in my years, obviously, I was in charge of the collection of Busch Gardens also, but it was all about marine animals, because that’s what Marineland of the Pacific was. Let’s talk about your beginnings then.

00:05:15 - 00:05:22

So you’re hired as a keeper to begin with, or less than a keeper in the Marineworld?

00:05:22 - 00:05:55

Or Marineland. It’s now closed and gone. Actually, no, I don’t think the designation was a keeper. I think I was basically a fish house guy, is what they called it. And so every day you go in and bucket thousands of pounds of fish and put ice on it and take it over the park to distribute to the different areas. Then you go back, clean up the room, sterilize the room as best you can. Then you take all the frozen food out of the freezer and put it in tubs. And, in those days, we water thawed.

00:05:55 - 00:07:08

We didn’t air thaw. And in fact, in those days, it was ironic in a way as you look at the husbandry practices that evolved and developed, I took the fish from this cold storage point to the different areas in the park and just stacked it in shelves. And I thought to myself after about a month there, “Why wouldn’t we put this in a refrigerator? It’s food.” So my mother and I chatted about it a little bit. (chuckles) And she said, “Well, it’s not good to leave certain food out for certain periods of time.” And we talked about it. And so I talked to the management there and I said, “We need to get refrigerators for this fish.” Of course, they looked at me like I had horns, and they’re thinking “What the heck?” And I said, “Well, you know, you don’t and take your used food or your food that you ate for breakfast and leave it out all day and then eat it for dinner, do you?” And they said, “No, we don’t.” And I said, “Well, let’s get refrigerators.” So we ended up going out and finding used refrigerators at different places and stacking them in these different areas. And that was sort of the evolution of a tremendous amount of different husbandry practices that I was a part of, not just me, but the people that worked there as a team. And it was a evolving process, because, in 1972, that’s the way things were done.

00:07:08 - 00:07:11

What kind of park did you find when you first got there?

00:07:12 - 00:07:13

What was it like?

00:07:13 - 00:07:49

Marineland of the Pacific was a beautiful place. It was right on the bluff on Palos Verdes, California. It looked out, on a clear day you can see Catalina. And it had killer whales and pilot whales and dolphins and sea lions and walrus and fish. And it was a very, very nice collection of animals and very well run. Unfortunately, it was at a point where it was isolated geographically. It was tough to kind of get there. And then, with the advent of SeaWorld being built in Southern California in San Diego, it became a little bit passe and it was bought by different owners.

00:07:49 - 00:07:56

And it just slowly went downhill simply because there wasn’t the attendance driven because it wasn’t new.

00:07:58 - 00:07:59

And who was your boss at this time?

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Who was it that ran the place?

00:08:02 - 00:08:32

At that particular time, it was run by a company called Oceanarium Incorporated who actually owned the Marineland in St. Augustine. And then it went through a series of ownership changes. I mean, it was Hollywood Turf Club for a while with Irwin Allen from 20th Century Fox Studios, the guy that did “Towering Inferno,” and things like that. And so it was quite an experience dealing with that man. Now, you mentioned as your responsibilities grew, you took care of a number of animals.

00:08:32 - 00:08:36

What kind of animals did you take care of in the beginning?

00:08:36 - 00:08:44

And what were some of the uniquenesses about all of these new animals you’re meeting for the first time and working with them?

00:08:44 - 00:09:17

All of them were unique in their own way. And there was an older keeper named Andy Soric. And he had come from Yugoslavia, which is now a different country. And he would tell me and teach me everything about the walruses, the otters and the seals. And he would talk in his accent and I’d have to listen to him. And I ended up creating probably a good and a bad habit, I’d always ask him why. And he’d look at me like, “Why do you ask why all the time?” I said, “Because I don’t know.

00:09:17 - 00:09:18

Why do we do this? Or why do we feed that?

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Or why are the clams already shelled?

00:09:20 - 00:10:05

Don’t the walruses crack their own shells like they do in a wild?” And so I’d always ask lots of questions. And that was probably something that helped me in my career because people always realized that I didn’t have the answers. So I asked, and that really created, I think, an aura of this guy doesn’t really know everything, but he’s doing a good job of it because he’s learning. And that’s the way I formed my team. We all are gonna learn together and we kept moving on. Walruses must have been somewhat unique at that time for management. Walruses were very unique at the time. And Marineland had one of the largest collections at that time.

00:10:05 - 00:10:47

They had like eight animals. They were bringing orphans down out of Alaska. And what was going on up in Alaska is the indigenous folks up there had options, quotas, to actually kill larger walruses or adult walruses, and use them for subsistence, for food and ivory and things like that. And the pups they wouldn’t kill because they felt that they had a kindred spirit of some sort. And it was a sort of a religious taboo to kill their pups. So they would just leave them thinking that they’d be taken care of. So we worked out a process where the people would call us and we’d go fly up there and get these pups and bring them down. And we would bottle-raise them on a formula.

00:10:47 - 00:11:36

So I would have baby walruses imprint on my voice and crawl up on my lap with these big bottles of milk and clam juice. And as they got to be 2,000 pounds, they’d still wanna climb up in my lap because they were imprinted. I was their mother. They were fascinating animals, very, very smart, very inquisitive. And the way they would use their fibrous hair or their whiskers and things to move things around or feel things and flip fish, they could flip fish back and forth from one side to the other while they’re swimming upside down. I mean, they were fascinating animals. And then to watch them grow and mature and then have pups themselves was quite the awesome experience for me and for people to watch. I mean, watching a baby walrus born was something else.

00:11:37 - 00:12:26

I’m gonna digress a bit, but I don’t know a lot of management programs for walruses now. There’s not, the future of walruses right now in human care is very shaky at best. And that’s really a function of only small amounts of facilities and zoos would get one or two walruses. And they played a little bit, and I think this was sort of the philosophy back then, into Noah’s Ark, “Let’s have two of each.” And that just doesn’t work. You need to have many, many walruses and you have to have lots of female. And then you gotta separate the males from the females, because that’s the way they do it in the wild. The males go into their ruts at certain times of year, December, January, that’s when they go find the females and that’s when the breeding takes place. And then they have delayed ovulation.

00:12:26 - 00:13:03

So 16 months later, 14 to 15 months, really, later, the pups are born on the ice in May and the males aren’t around anymore. But that’s not the way we managed it. And, nowadays, that’s exactly what they’re doing. They’re shifting walruses, the few that are around in North America, the males at certain times of the year go and meet new females. It sounds kind of sexy, but it’s different. And that’s not the way they were managed. And they were also, I think people realized that they have to have lots of water space. They have to have really good food, and it’s expensive food. So it was just one of those animals that wasn’t part of the collection planning.

00:13:06 - 00:13:12

Is that management that you did so long ago, is that still known or understood by people?

00:13:12 - 00:13:13

Has that been lost?

00:13:13 - 00:13:55

It has been lost, the tribal knowledge in a lot of areas in husbandry or care of animals I think is being lost. There’s manuals on how to raise pups. There’s formulas, and you’ve gotta know where the sources are, obviously. With the internet today, you can find those things. But not only having the knowledge, you really need to pass on sort of the experience. You know, this pup in fact, there was a walrus pup born here earlier this spring, and it was nursing and doing very well. And Mike Boos, the general curator here, asked me, “Would you come and look at the pup?” because none of the staff had ever watched a pup born and nursing. They thought everything looked good.

00:13:55 - 00:14:36

And I walked up and I watched for about 30, 40 minutes and asked, “How old is it now?” And it was 11 or 12 days. And I said, “It’s too skinny. It’s too thin. Something, the milk isn’t probably good enough to supplement this animal. So you gotta teach the animal how to feed from a bottle and then give it back to the mom and then teach it to come in and feed from the bottle.” And they looked at me like, “Are you kidding me?” And I said, “No, it can be done. Believe me, it can be done.” And they did it. Pup’s doing very well, growing up with its mom, having a good time. Okay, I’ll go back to Tom. Tom was a great mentor and a good friend still to this day.

00:14:36 - 00:15:21

And as he watched the people there training the animals and he realized that their paradigm was wrong. And he had started to work with, you know, being more positive reinforcing and the animals getting reinforced for doing the correct behaviors and things like that. And you just ignore bad behavior and move on. And the animals get all their food every day. And it made a world of difference. And this was really right at ’72, ’73. And the way we met, actually, I was walking around the corner one day, and he had just come back to Marineland after his stint of moving somewhere else. And I had some rags and some bucket of fish and I had a chainmail glove that my dad gave me.

00:15:21 - 00:15:57

It was from his days as a butcher way earlier on in his career. And this is how I would force-feed the animals, I would gather them up and sort of squat over them and tuck their flippers. And then, I would take and let them bite me with the hand that had the chainmail glove. Then, I could get a little rag twisted in and open it. And I’d put one rag under the knee in the other rag. And then I’d turn, take the chainmail glove again with a fish upside down and shove it to the back of their throat. And then once they got to the back of their tongue, they’d just (lips pop) swallow it. But, you know, for them to eat a dead fish, wasn’t, you know, a real thing.

00:15:57 - 00:16:48

But it didn’t take very long. But Tom was watching me and he was fascinated. He says, “You’re doing this by yourself?” And I said, “Well, nobody else is helping me, so, yeah.” So he’d helped me. And then we started talking about training and reinforcing the animal and making sure that they understood, you know, use the whistle as a secondary reinforcer and then the animal goes, “Oh, well, I’m gonna get a primary reinforcement now.” And so that developed, and from that day on, I think there was a huge turn in the community of people that were training marine mammals at the time to all doing positive reinforcement. And everything that these animals are trained to do is based upon that paradigm and that theory. And I think a lot of zoo animals started to be trained that way also as the marine mammal trainers sort of went off into the zoo community and started using that idea to do that for husbandry and other behavior.

00:16:49 - 00:16:51

So had you moved up now?

00:16:51 - 00:16:56

Was your title move from the fishes to now you’re an animal keeper?

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What was the structure like?

00:16:58 - 00:17:47

What were the- The structure there at that time was like, you know, the lowest person was the fish house guy, and that was me. And then there was keepers and trainers and aquarists. There was three different categories. And then there was a curator of each division and then the head general curator. And so, at one point, there was an opening in the training department to go down and do some of the sea lion shows. And, of course, I’d watched the sea lion shows, you know, every day whereas I’d go pass by and do my work. And I thought, “Well, that’s nice, but I don’t wanna do that every day because it’s the same thing.” And so I said said, “No, I don’t wanna do that.” And some of the trainers at the group said, they got very critical of me saying, “What do you mean you don’t wanna do that?” And I said, “Well, I just don’t wanna do that.” So I waited longer as a fish house guy. I sort of kept myself in that room for a while.

00:17:47 - 00:18:00

Then, there was an opening as a keeper. And as I said, I was mentored then by Andy Soric. And he taught me all about the other animals that weren’t necessarily in the show areas. And so I learned a little bit of everything.

00:18:01 - 00:18:08

Who was the director of Marineland who was the general trainer?

00:18:09 - 00:18:12

And did you have experiences with them?

00:18:12 - 00:18:47

Yeah, all the time. Bill Walker was the general curator. He had studied mammalogy, and he was really fascinated by all of the stranding. He started actually started the Stranding Network in Southern California. Jerry Goldsmith was the curator of fishes, and Jerry went on to work at SeaWorld also. And there was a lot of people that worked there that went on to other facilities. Ken Norris was one of the original curators at Marineland, and he went up and became a professor at UC Santa Cruz and taught a lot of people that went out into the zoo and aquarium community.

00:18:47 - 00:18:52

What were some of your adventures with your charges that you think about or (indistinct)?

00:18:53 - 00:20:05

There was a lot of different experiences. And, you know, I should write a book one day, but it would be fun. I can remember different experiences when somebody would say, “Hey, listen the walruses are giving,” you know, like, “The walrus is having its pup now.” So we’d drain the water out of the pool and making sure that they had a proper area. And just watching that was quite fascinating to watch. And one day I listened to an individual at the front gate as I was approaching the flamingo exhibit, ’cause I was gonna go in and rake and clean and feed them. And one of the ladies standing there said, “You know, one of these flamingos just flew off.” And I looked at her and I go, “No, no, no, we clipped their feathers on their one side so that they’re a little uneven and they don’t fly off.” And she goes, “No, no one flew off. It got a gust of wind and off it went over the cars and off.” And I said, “You gotta be kidding me.” And about 10 minutes later, the Coast Guard called and said, “Hey, we see a pink bird down in the water and it’s probably one of yours.” And there was a big lighthouse structure and the Coast Guard right near Marineland. And I said, “Really?” So I went to the bluff and looked down and there’s that flamingo paddling around in the ocean.

00:20:05 - 00:20:33

And I thought, “Well.” So we got down, we went down to the pier, got the boat and got a surfboard and we tried to approach it with a boat. And that wasn’t working, ’cause the bird would just fly off and move down further away. Finally, I got on the surfboard, and slowly the boat got on one side and I went the other way. And then I dove underwater and I grabbed it and we brought it back and clipped its wings a little bit more so it was uneven and put it back with the flock. And it was pretty happy to get back with the other birds, believe me.

00:20:34 - 00:20:47

So you are working at Marineland from 1972 to 1977 and, during that time, you’re a full-fledged animal keeper?

00:20:47 - 00:20:58

Actually, yeah, I was an animal keeper and then I was an assistant curator and then the general curator. So, really, it was 15 years. It was ’72 to ’86.

00:20:58 - 00:21:01

But that one stint was your keeper experience?

00:21:01 - 00:21:05

That’s right, and then I went into the management structure of the different areas.

00:21:05 - 00:21:24

And each time that would open up, people would say, they’d say, “Are you gonna interview for that job?” And I go, “Well, certainly.” And I would go in and just say, “I would really like to have that job.” And they’d say, “Well, what makes you think you can do this now?” And I said, “I think I can do it because I’ll ask everybody, ‘Why?

00:21:24 - 00:21:42

(chuckles) How do you do it?'” And they thought, “Well, that’s a humble approach to it. Well, okay.” So I never interviewed really for a job. I just got moved from one to another. And I just raised my hand said, “I’ll do that.” And they said, okay, “You’ll do it.” And that answered one of my other questions.

00:21:42 - 00:21:54

My last one, an animal keeper is, after time doing that, at times, do you miss the days when you were just there with your walruses?

00:21:55 - 00:22:35

Yeah, that’s a great question. Certainly. I mean, when you graduate or get promoted in this business and you stop working with the animals, I think you dearly miss it, ’cause then you have to start dealing with people. And people talk and people have opinions, which is fine, but it’s much different than working with animals. The animals don’t talk. They love you. The bond is there. You love them. And it’s a great relationship and you go home each day. And I used to go home satisfied that I really contributed to that animal’s life and vice versa. I think they contributed to mine.

00:22:35 - 00:22:51

And working with people was a lot harder. (indistinct) signed contract right here. You’re promoted, all right. So now, as you say, you raise your hand. You’re promoted to associate curator. There was an opening, obviously.

00:22:51 - 00:23:03

There was an opening and then, yeah, I raised my hand said, “I can do that.” And they go, “Okay.” What new responsibilities now did you have that you didn’t have before as associate curator?

00:23:03 - 00:23:53

Well, as an associate curator, you would have more animals that you were responsible for and more keepers. So it was divided up, again, into the aquarium department, the animal keeping department and the animal trainers. And so the associate curator of the animal keeping department would be all of the animals that were in exhibits around the park that weren’t in the aquariums or the animals that weren’t in the shows. So it just expanded and you had management of four or five other keepers now. And it’s ironic, in a way, because now I became Andy’s boss, which worked out very well because I could continue to ask him, “Well, why Andy? Why do we do that?” And he would never look at me as funny or anything else. And it worked out very well. And we worked as a team and I would help them, they’d help me. They had their individual duties and we’d just rotate around and help each other.

00:23:53 - 00:24:09

And I was a hands-on curator. I didn’t wanna step away from that work at all, but I didn’t wanna take their job, because everyone had to do it in a way. And people had to have days off, but we all had to know how to help each other.

00:24:09 - 00:24:18

Do you think that the keeper staff identified more with you because they know you had done it, you had been in their shoes?

00:24:18 - 00:25:07

Absolutely, I think being the fish guy and doing all that work and learning from them and asking them questions and learning the daily processes and not assuming that I knew everything. And I approached it just that way. I would ask questions all the time. And I kind of treated like I used to play rugby. You gotta depend upon every teammate, the other 14 members on the field, or you’re not gonna win. You do your job well and then the other 14 do their job well, then you’re gonna win. So I would treat almost everything like that, as “We’re gonna win, so we have to do this as a team.” The park, Marineland, they had a first-of-its-kind swim-through concept with Baja Reef.

00:25:07 - 00:25:09

Can you explain why it was groundbreaking?

00:25:10 - 00:26:00

It was groundbreaking because it was the first of its kind, number one. And Jerry Goldsmith and I sat and talked about that for months and months and months, about how we would convince the management to spend that kind of money and what the experience would be. So what we did first is we got a friend, there was actually a friend of mine who was a welder, and he created a stainless steel cage that we actually lowered down into the giant fish tank, as it was called. It was a giant oval building four stories high with a lot of small windows in it. And there was hundreds of fish and different species and sharks in this that just swam around. It was very similar to the Marineland in St. Augustine, but larger. So what we did is we set this cage in the middle. It was like a donut and we had a platform over it.

00:26:00 - 00:26:14

And what we did is we started to have people go in there and snorkel. And then, we ended up getting scuba people to come in, that are certified scuba divers, s to go in and go down and descend in this cage and get close to the animals.

00:26:14 - 00:26:20

And so that spawned the whole idea, “Why don’t we just build a reef?

00:26:20 - 00:26:46

Because people love to snorkel. People love to go into the ocean.” We found, though, a lot of people don’t like to go in the ocean. They’re afraid of it. So this was an educational tool that was unsurpassed, to actually let people put on a little wetsuit, put on a mask and snorkel, tell them the rules, “Don’t go chasing the fish, just swim through slowly and watch the habitat and watch the animals.” And it was a hit, absolute hit.

00:26:47 - 00:26:50

Has it been duplicated?

00:26:50 - 00:27:09

It’s been duplicated in a lot of places. You can go across the street from here in SeaWorld Orlando to Discovery Cove and there’s a beautiful reef, a artificial reef that you can snorkel through. And, of course, there’s lots of those particular types of exhibit areas in Hawaii now, and in the Caribbean in Mexico where you swim through reefs. And it’s just beautiful.

00:27:09 - 00:27:11

But this was the first of its kind?

00:27:11 - 00:27:15

It was the first of its kind. You talked about you had to educate the people.

00:27:15 - 00:27:21

What educational or research was Marineland conducting when you were there and involved?

00:27:21 - 00:28:12

Most of the educational work that we did was based upon schools sending busloads of kids. We’d set up guided tours in the early morning and took them through the park and explained to them all of the different animals and what they do. And then they would spend a half day watching the other animals and some of the shows before they’d go back. That was the majority of the beginnings of an educational process there. But I wanted more than that. I just thought that I wanted to know more, I wanted the children to know more. And I wanted to go kind of go back to my days of picking a starfish out a tide pool and taking it home and letting it die and dry out, to hang onto a netting in the patio of our house, thinking, “Well, that was not the right thing to do.” So I wanted people to have that same type of respect and realize you don’t have to touch it. You can just look at it.

00:28:12 - 00:29:00

So we created a touch pool within the aquarium areas. But we didn’t have people grabbing them. We had them put in little plexiglass boxes so they could look at two feet and move along. And then we’d put it back in and let the starfish crawl out. And so we created that type of an experience where I felt that having that close encounter with an animal or seeing a baby sea lion or helping feed a baby sea lion with a bottle because it failed to nurse or something like that, or it was premature, what a neat experience for a young child to be able to do that and what a bond they would set up for the future. Because, in this day and age, if we don’t strengthen that human-animal bond, well, first of all, the people bond’s a mess now let alone everything else that’s going on in this world, but a people-animal bond is so important for us to protect the world.

00:29:03 - 00:29:08

Was there research being conducted of any kind during this time?

00:29:08 - 00:29:35

There was quite a bit of research going on in terms of the reproduction of all of the different species and documentation of that. Bill Walker and Ken Norris and all of those individuals set up very nice projects, you know, different projects to study the different fishes. And there was lots of things going on. A lot of publications came out of Marineland early in the days. And there still have many, many publications that were made by individuals there. And it was sad that it had to close, but a lot of good work was done.

00:29:36 - 00:29:43

At the time, were you in direct competition with Disneyland, and how did that affect the park visitors?

00:29:43 - 00:30:15

We were in competition with Disneyland. And then Universal Studios, of course, was built. And that was a different type of competition because they really didn’t have what we had at Marineland. But as I said, Marineland was somewhat isolated geographically and it was quite the drive. And then, of course, when SeaWorld was built in San Diego, that took over as the trump card in terms of that was really sort of the ace that sort of started the downward trend of the attendance. But Marineland seems to have this unique history of the reputation.

00:30:15 - 00:30:17

Why do you think that is?

00:30:17 - 00:30:52

I think it has a great reputation simply because a lot of the founders in the aquarium community came from there. If you go back and look at all the people that started there, like the Jerry Goldsmiths and the Ken Norrises and Tom Ottens and the Brad Andrews and things like that. And the people that came out of there all were sort of the beginning stalwarts, I guess, of the aquarium growth. And so it was fun to be involved with those people and it was fun to learn from them. And we did a lot of neat things.

00:30:52 - 00:30:55

At Marineland, did you work with Orky and Corky?

00:30:56 - 00:30:59

(indistinct) stories about Orky and Corky?

00:30:59 - 00:31:01

And who were Orky and Corky?

00:31:01 - 00:31:49

Orky and Corky were two killer whales that were collected in the Pacific, up in the Pacific Northwest. They were collected, I believe, in ’67, ’69, somewhere in that timeframe. And, of course, they did the show at Marineland. And they were great animals. Our experiences with them were very challenging in a way, simply ’cause Corky would get pregnant. And she probably never witnessed having, not had a calf herself, she probably was taken from the wild as a young animal and probably didn’t witness the whole idea of another birth happening and what you’re supposed to do. I believe cetaceans, dolphins and whales, learn a lot of it. It’s not necessarily all hardwired, instinctual issues like some other animals.

00:31:49 - 00:32:25

I think they do a lot of it by watching others, their aunties and others. And so I think a lot of it is learned behavior along with some of the instinctual issues too. You know, obviously, they start lactating and nursing starts happening and things like that, they have to swim in the right patterns. But Corky just had a tough time figuring it out. So we experimented with trying to raise her. She had three, four calves. And each one would make it to a certain stage in its life and wouldn’t make it. It was very frustrating for us, as I’m sure it was frustrating for her, but we learned a lot about that.

00:32:25 - 00:32:55

And today I can tell you any dolphin or beluga whale or killer whale that’s born that is either premature or its mother has having problems or the baby’s having problems, we know how to raise one because we know how to do it. We know how to handle them. We know how to get the formula in them. We know how to treat them. We know how to act and we know how to keep that bond going. So I think that’s amazing ’cause, in the last 40 years now, we can actually take a baby whale off the beach and save its life.

00:32:57 - 00:33:05

Speaking of whales, how did Bubbles, the pilot whale, come to Marineland, and did you work with her?

00:33:05 - 00:33:06

Any stories?

00:33:06 - 00:33:39

Bubbles, she was there when I arrived. She was collected in the Catalina Channel early in the ’60s. She lived 50 plus years. She was always a neat animal and all was fun to work with. And she would just love squid. She loved squid. And it was just amazing to watch these pilot whales take handfuls of squid and just devour them. And they were great animals. And they worked alongside the Pacific white-sided dolphins, the Lagenorhynchus, as we call them, and the lags.

00:33:39 - 00:34:04

And they’re beautiful animals. And, of course, they cohabitated the Catalina Channel. So they were always swimming together out there. And it was great for people to sit there and watch these animals, and then turn and be able to see, actually, if the animals were close to offshore, they could see them in the wild also. It was kind of a neat juxtaposition of these animals are representing these animals and here’s what they do and here’s how they act.

00:34:04 - 00:34:06

Was Bubbles a stranding or?

00:34:06 - 00:34:24

No, Bubbles was legally collected with a permit from a population that was studied. And the process in those days was you had to document the population size so that there was a sustainable take, meaning a small percentage. And then you had had to get a federal permit to do that.

00:34:24 - 00:34:30

What other unique animals, marine mammals did the Marineland have?

00:34:31 - 00:35:11

In the very beginning, early on in the ’70s, they had large elephant seals, really large elephant seals. And, again, we found with the large elephant seals is that, when they molt, they stop eating. And it’s a very tough time in their life because they’re now on the beaches molting, if they’re out on the different islands, the Channel Islands, and they don’t eat for almost two, three months. And a lot of them lose their lives because they develop health problems. Their immune system is compromised. So we really had to learn the husbandry technique of letting them beach, molt.

00:35:12 - 00:35:14

How do they stay cool?

00:35:14 - 00:35:15

Do we let them flip sand?

00:35:15 - 00:35:17

How do we keep the sand clean?

00:35:17 - 00:36:21

‘Cause you know, they poop terrible amounts, large amounts, even as they, though, went through their molt, and they would defecate less, obviously, ’cause they were eating less. And then when they started to eat again, we learned the cycle. This really proved to be helpful in a lot of ways because people like Dan Costa and others were studying animals in the Channel Islands, Dr. Costa. A lot of the answers weren’t known. So, in essence, this was a little bit like a puzzle. And the studies that were going on in the wild and the studies that were going on at Marineland were sort of the pieces of that puzzle and we could start fitting the pieces together to sort of complete the picture. So that’s why I still think very strongly today, good zoos and aquariums provide those pieces of the puzzle that make a difference for that puzzle that is gonna save animals. We wouldn’t have black-footed ferrets today or Arabian oryxs out there if we didn’t have the opportunity to learn about them and know how to take care of them and know how to reproduce them.

00:36:21 - 00:36:26

California condor is another example. So this is very important.

00:36:26 - 00:36:39

At the time that you’re the associate curator, getting any other advice aside from the one gentleman you mentioned who mentored you, or are your bosses helping you along?

00:36:39 - 00:37:30

Well, everybody was helpful at Marineland, because it was such a small staff. We all helped each other. I mean, every Thursday morning when a fish truck would show up from the freezer plant down in San Pedro, we’d call all the areas and say, “Get your jackets and your gloves and come on up to the fish house. We’re all gonna unload together.” And that’s the way it was. If we had to do a husbandry practice or husbandry procedure or get a blood sample, and this was in the days before they were trained to present their flukes, but we would drain the water and get to four or five people. And people would always ask me, he said, “Geez, Brad, you’re the big guy. Why don’t you hold the flukes?” And, “Okay, I’ll hold the flukes.” But that’s why husbandry training became so important because we learned how to do it in a cooperative manner so the animals volunteered the behavior. And so that was important.

00:37:30 - 00:37:44

I was gonna say, as you look back on what you’re talking about, is the beginnings of handling and moving cetaceans and other large marine mammals, you’re inventing new protocols, there’s trial and error?

00:37:46 - 00:38:51

The business, I wouldn’t even say it’s a business, the art was evolving and the people that ignored the evolution of that were the people that ended up leaving. And they weren’t good animal people, really. The people that evolved would listen to each other and talk to each other and call up somebody at another place and say, “Hey, how did you do that?” And then they would exchange the information. But I found in the very beginning, in the zoo aquarium field, people were very quiet. They weren’t very good at exchanging information, which I was puzzled with in the beginning. What I found, though, is once you became good friends with someone, that information flowed very freely. So it was about partnerships, friendships in that you would share this information, and also going to the AZA or the IMATA or the IAAAM or one of the trade associations to learn more and share more. And the more you shared, the more you got.

00:38:51 - 00:39:23

And the more you kept yourself, people did the same, they wouldn’t tell you. So it became very intriguing to learn new things all the time, especially to colleagues all over the world. I’ve learned so much from so many other people, because I learned how to ask why in different languages. Now you become general curator. You’ve raised your hand again. After two years you become general curator.

00:39:23 - 00:39:27

So how did this happen, and who did you replace?

00:39:27 - 00:40:09

At the time, Bill Walker went off to work at the Los Angeles County Museum to take care and curate that collection. And again, as I said earlier, he was fascinated with the marine mammals and the strandings in Southern California. So it fit in his wheelhouse much better. And so I raised my hand said, “I can do that.” And so the general manager of the park said, “Yeah, Brad, you’re good. We’ll let you do it.” They don’t interview? They don’t- No, in fact, we didn’t even have a human resource department then. (chuckles) It was just, that was the way things were done. And small staff. And, again, I had learned as much as I can from everybody. Now, during this time, you mentioned communication.

00:40:09 - 00:40:12

Were you interacting with any other marine parks?

00:40:12 - 00:40:15

Are there any for you to really interact with?

00:40:15 - 00:40:48

There were, actually. There weren’t a lot. I mean, the International Association for Aquatic Animal Medicine was formed in 1972, IAAAM. And, actually, in ’72 and ’73, I went to my first meeting. and the ’72 meeting was actually in Redondo Beach. We were the host. And the ’73 meeting was in Amsterdam. So I took my first international trip, other than rugby. I traveled around the world playing rugby, but this was now my first fish trip, as my wife called it.

00:40:48 - 00:41:11

And so I went to Amsterdam and I met a lot of beautiful people, great people. And, you know, there was a dolphinarium in there at Harderwijk. And we met other people from Europe and other aquariums and started sharing information. And then I started going to the International Marine Animal Trainers Association meetings that was formed around the same time. And then, later, AZA, or AAZPA, as it was called in the very beginning.

00:41:12 - 00:41:34

So I used to go to all these different meetings because, simply, I wanted to meet people and learn and again, ask them a bothersome question, “Why do you do that?” Are there new exhibits being contemplated or completed at Marineland during this time that you’re general curator, and are you part of the process?

00:41:34 - 00:42:10

The only really big development that we had in that timeframe in those 15 years was really that Baja Reef. There wasn’t a lot of capital money from the different owners that owned it. We were owned by different companies. And we were even owned by Hanna-Barbera, the studios, one time. So Baja Reef was really it. We did a lot of renovation of some of the older exhibits and created some new penguin exhibits and new flamingo exhibits. And most of it was small stuff. We didn’t put up a new aquarium and things like that.

00:42:10 - 00:42:31

It was just part of the process of watching a company or companies not infuse capital money and market it in a correct manner to keep the attendance high. So it went down the slippery slope. And you mentioned, during this time, the park changes its name to Hanna-Barbera’s Marineland.

00:42:32 - 00:42:38

Why the name change, and what did that mean to you and the people who managed the animals?

00:42:38 - 00:43:16

Well, it’s interesting, we went through five different companies, I think, in the 15-year period. And people would always get really uptight about it and nervous and go, “Who’s the new owner, and what are they gonna do?” And I sort of took the approach, “Don’t worry about it. I’ll deal with them. You know, you work for the animals, the animals depend upon you every day. So you come to work and work for the animals. Don’t worry about if we’re owned by a Hollywood company or a Chinese company or out of Hong Kong. Don’t worry about that. Take care of the critters and don’t worry about these issues.” And it seemed to work.

00:43:17 - 00:43:22

So there really was no change at the animal management level?

00:43:22 - 00:43:40

There was never really much animal management level changes. It was always fascinating, though, for me to look at the new management and find out who they were and how would I educate them on what we did. And I spent a lot of energy and time doing that, because it was important that they understood why we did it.

00:43:40 - 00:43:48

And I would be asked a question, for instance, well, why did we give clams to the walruses?

00:43:48 - 00:45:02

“It’s awful expensive.” And I said, “Well, you know, it’s expensive, but it’s part of their diet. It’s what they eat. And so I had to do a demonstration of how they crack the shells in the back of their teeth, suck it out like a sunflower seed and how the whole process with the whiskers and how they find the clams and why it’s important. And they looked at me like, “I’m not sure if I wanted all this information.” But it certainly helped them understand what the need was. And then the next question would be, “Well, why do they have to 300, 200 pounds a day?” I go, “Because they’re a 4,000 pound animal.” And the gentleman I was talking to said, “Well, I have a small amount for breakfast and a salad for lunch. And then, at dinner, we have a moderate meal.” And I go, “Well, what happens if you start cutting one of those out?” And he says, “Well, that wouldn’t be healthy for me.” And I go, “Bingo, it’s not healthy if we cut out the food that’s necessary for a good body weight and a robust body and a healthy animal.” So I think that taught me a little bit about the politics involved in dealing with non-animal people. They needed to know too. They needed to ask why, but some of them didn’t.

00:45:02 - 00:45:35

So you had to make a compelling, not a story, but a compelling idea of why I was so important to do these different things and make it palatable so they could really get it and understand it. Because, to them, it cost money and they wanted to know why. And once they got it, they were in, they were 100% supportive of it. In fact, they would start creating ideas that would help, like the Baja Reef. “You guys created a good idea here, let’s do this.” So it worked both ways.

00:45:36 - 00:45:43

Were you, during this time, you kind of talked a little about it, able to develop your professional growth, and how did you do it?

00:45:43 - 00:45:47

Was it just mainly through meeting colleagues?

00:45:47 - 00:46:52

It was, it was just mainly through meeting colleagues. The management style that I adopted, I didn’t go back to a management school or a management class. And they didn’t have those then. Or if they did, we certainly didn’t send anybody again. Again, I fashioned it a little bit in a sort of a rough model of how I would play sports or coach sports, that you have to understand what you’re doing, you have to explain it well, and you have to execute it well and help each other do it, ’cause if you didn’t, you can’t be a good rugby coach, for instance, if you didn’t play good rugby. But, sometimes, good rugby players made lousy coaches because they couldn’t teach what they knew. They couldn’t make it understandable and understandable to the point where they could, “This is what you do and this is how you do it. And here’s how you’ll get there.” So I used that model all the time, and it worked.

00:46:53 - 00:47:05

Now you were talking about that (indistinct). And you talked about different owners. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, they were the owner of SeaWorld ocean park family, they purchased Marineland in 1986.

00:47:06 - 00:47:08

How did that affect anybody?

00:47:08 - 00:47:11

No big deal, or just another owner?

00:47:11 - 00:48:07

In the very beginning, the HBJ folks came in and were very nice and everything worked out out well. And the different curators came up from SeaWorld in San Diego and talked with us. And the first thing they said, “Well, we think we should move these two killer whales down to San Diego because we have more whales that they can be with and bigger space.” And my reaction to that was, “That’s a great idea. I think that’s a wonderful idea, because, they’re big animals, they’re mature animals. And to be successful in the breeding, I think Corky and Orky need to go to a larger pod.” And so, at that time, we moved the whales. And that was a big deal, moving those whales out of that facility. We did it in the dark of night. And, unfortunately, the public relations part of the business didn’t really do a very good job of informing the public or the city of Rancho Palos Verdes where Marineland was.

00:48:07 - 00:49:01

And so there was a big uproar that the whales were stolen in the middle of the night, and they were absconded and off they went down to San Diego. And everybody got upset and people wanted to protest. And, of course, my staff was just, you know, they knew that it was good for the animals. And then what the reaction was from HBJ, sadly enough, is they said, “Well, we’re not gonna put up with this protesting from the city and all of these demands. And we’re not gonna just put up with this guff. We’re just gonna close it.” So within a short period of time, we started moving all the animals out and I had to lay people off as all the animals were going to San Diego, or Florida at that time. That was a pretty sad affair, because there was good people. But the bright side, at the very end when we moved the last animals and the place was quiet, it was really a sad time.

00:49:01 - 00:49:34

And, at that time, I was gonna go off and do something different in my life because I thought, “Well, that’s it.” And the head person down San Diego asked me if I wanted to come and work for him in San Diego for SeaWorld. And I said, “Well, I’d be glad to come and work for you if you hire all the people that worked for me.” And he goes, “Well, no, I don’t wanna do that because they belong to the Operating Engineers Union and we don’t want a union employee.” And I said, “Well, they’re good people. They don’t care about the union. They work for the animals. They were in the union because they had to.

00:49:34 - 00:49:55

That was just part of the deal.” And he goes, “No, I don’t wanna do that.” About two days later, he called me and he says, “I’ve changed my mind.” And I said, “Well, why’d you change your mind?” And he says, “Because I knew you wouldn’t come If they didn’t come.” And I said, “You’re absolutely right.” I wasn’t gonna come, because why would I take the job if they couldn’t have a job?

00:49:56 - 00:50:30

So my transitioned after 15 years to San Diego and then off to Orlando. And another 25 years slipped by and, bingo. Well, we have a couple more questions. (Brad laughs) moving Orky and Corky, you were in charge of this move. Moving Orky and Corky, I had moved dolphins and pilot whales. I had never moved a killer whale. So I depended really, again, on the people from SeaWorld to know what they were doing. And I asked many questions.

00:50:30 - 00:50:45

“Why are we doing that? Why are we doing that?” But I was integral in terms of the coordinating everybody, the players, who’s in the water, who’s on the stretcher, who’s doing what, who knows Corky the best, who knows Orky the best?

00:50:45 - 00:51:24

You know, we basically just trained them and they walked them right in the stretchers in semi-deep water. And plenty of water for the animals, but we just got the stretchers under them and had them swim through them and stop, target, reinforce them, lift them up. And they craned them out. And so I watched this process, and I was fascinated. They had these huge blue boxes full of water and they suspend the stretchers in these boxes of water. So the animals are now sort of free floating, but they’re somewhat restrained by their stretchers. And these things were on large trucks. We had a police escort and went down the highway all the way to San Diego and unloaded them.

00:51:24 - 00:51:47

And you just do the opposite, take them out, put the stretcher in the water, unfold the sides, and they swim out. And from that point, I met people like Jim Antrim and Don Goldsberry and Lanny Cornell and people like that and learned a lot about that. And from that point on, I ended up, with Jim especially, moving hundreds of marine mammals around the world safely.

00:51:47 - 00:51:51

But you did it at night, your choice, the company’s choice?

00:51:51 - 00:52:28

Because you felt that it would be- It was done at night simply because we didn’t want traffic on the road, (chuckles) plain and simply. Even though we had a police escort, we just didn’t wanna get caught on the San Diego Freeway in the middle of the afternoon. And people thought it was some secretive deal, but it made common sense. It’s cool, it’s dark, there’s no traffic. We do the same thing with aircraft. You do it, you load them up early in the morning and fly off to wherever you’re gonna fly to, and arrange the landing time at the same type of a situation. Finish up a couple things on Marineland.

00:52:30 - 00:52:43

Do you think the sale to SeaWorld, as you mentioned was a little controversial, but do you think if it hadn’t occurred, would Marineland have survived or?

00:52:43 - 00:53:11

I think if that particular transition hadn’t have happened with HBJ coming in and buying the park and then ultimately closing it, I don’t think that was their choice in the very beginning. I think they just reached that business decision as it went on, Marineland would’ve closed. It would’ve gone away. It absolutely would’ve. And then the animals would’ve been separated and moved off to different places. And most of them went together, and then the team went together.

00:53:11 - 00:53:18

Now, I asked this question of a number of people, but how important was it for you as a manager to make your rounds daily, or did you?

00:53:18 - 00:53:52

Oh, absolutely. I made rounds every day. I walked and I’d look at back areas. I’d look at exhibits, I’d watch the animals. I’d look at their food charts that were stored in different areas. I’d go visit my old friends in the fish house. And I’d even put my jacket and gloves on and help unload the fish truck. I just thought, for instance, if you didn’t go have a pulse and a feeling and you’d just look at people and listen to them and you depend upon that entirely, you’re not getting the full picture. And it’s not that I didn’t trust anyone.

00:53:52 - 00:54:49

I just wanted to see what they were talking about so I could understand how they were describing what they were looking at. Because sometimes, as you know, people will say, “Well, the animal is looking funny today because it’s doing this (coughs).” And you go, “Oh, okay, well, let’s take a blood sample.” But unless you’ve been with that person watching the animal, watching that behavior or watching that activity, it’s very hard for you to make that off-the-cuff decision. And that’s one of the things that I found most challenging later on at SeaWorld. Now you have three SeaWorld parks, and then, later on, Busch Gardens and Discovery Cove, so you can’t go see the animals every day. So you really do have to depend upon that relationship with the people there to understand, when they’re talking to you on the phone at four in the morning or eight o’clock at night, “This is what I’m seeing and this is what we’re going to do.

00:54:49 - 00:54:59

What do you think?” So that relationship building was very important so that we could be in sync and make sure that we were sort of checking with each other, “Why?

00:54:59 - 00:55:01

Okay, good. Are you sure?

00:55:01 - 00:55:15

Should we do this?” Oh, yeah, that’s a good idea. Let’s do that too.” So it helped me with that relationship because, really, the size of the number of species and number of specimens in the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens park was really the biggest in the world.

00:55:18 - 00:55:24

Looking back on those times at Marineland, what’s your fondest memory?

00:55:24 - 00:55:27

What makes you the proudest of your time there?

00:55:27 - 00:56:23

I think my fondest memory at Marineland was the people I worked with and the success we had in sustainability. And we had sea lion pups and walrus pups and harbor seal pups and dolphin babies and dolphin calves. That, and the fact that we really, I think, perfected the art form of saving stranded animals, marine animals, that we were really sort of the pioneers of rehabilitation and release. We would rehabilitate these animals and get rid of their parasites and tag them and let them go. And I think those two things in itself were foundational pieces, along with the teaching the kids. I loved teaching the kids and having the kids come in because the kids don’t know what the ocean’s about. They don’t know what the whales are about. They don’t know what dolphins are about.

00:56:24 - 00:56:40

So I think being able to share those joys and those ideas with our staff and the kids, our staff love to talk to them. And it was also fun to talk to adults, even though sometimes they didn’t listen much. Strandings happen at different times of the day and night.

00:56:40 - 00:56:43

Who’s doing this part of the job?

00:56:43 - 00:57:11

Actually, part of the keeping department actually was assigned to do that. So we had rescue trucks that would go out and pick up the animals. And we had a network with a coordination of lifeguards and a stranding network with National Marine Fishery Service. So there was a good line of communication and phone trees. But we’d go out, pick the animal up. The lifeguards would be there. They would teach them how to put wet towels on them and not pour water down their blowholes. And they got involved in it and they were part of the process.

00:57:11 - 00:58:25

And then they’d come to Marineland to see their animals, if they lived. Of course, if they didn’t live, we would call them up and tell them, “This animal didn’t live, and here’s why.” What we found, and I’ve had the experience, the necropsy, or autopsy, hundreds of marine animals that came up on the beaches, and I gotta tell you, that the ocean isn’t a very clean place. You would find worms in their stomach, their intestines, their livers, their brains, parasites that were just destroying their bodies, and pneumonia, kidney failure with stones. It was just weird to experience that side of the business, where, on the other side of the business, we were curating a healthy collection. But to watch what was going on in the environment affecting wild populations. We worked with the Los Angeles County Museum and veterinarians would come out and help us. And it was just deleterious to see that happening and mind-boggling to see that happen. And one of the things that we started to do is working with different people, especially a parasitologist, Dr. Murray Daley out of Long Beach State University.

00:58:25 - 00:59:24

And Murray was a marine mammal parasitologist. And once I met him and realized what the work he was doing, I said, “Well, let’s discover the life cycle of some of these other worms. Let’s figure out where they’re coming from.” So we would actually do that. We’d collect the worms, we’d collect the feces and figure out if we could get the transitional cycle of that worm and figure out what fish was eating the feces, how that went back and was eaten by the sea lion again. And that’s how we figured out the lungworm that California sea lions would get. And Murray really enjoyed the work out at Marineland because he got so many lifetime experiences, real experiences to actually prove that these worms were deleterious to the population and how they came about. And it’s just a fact of life that that’s why the populations were somewhat regulated by natural causes, if you wanna call parasitology natural. The questions gonna essentially be about filming at Marineland, TV shows.

00:59:24 - 00:59:26

And how did that work then?

00:59:26 - 00:59:29

Are you, or the animals were bothered?

00:59:29 - 00:59:40

Well, filming at Marineland, sure, there was a lot of different filming that went on. I mean, “Sea Hunt” was filmed there, a lot of the different Hollywood shows because of the location and the uniqueness of the animals.

00:59:40 - 00:59:44

And all we would do is sit down with the directors and producers and say, “What do you want?

00:59:44 - 01:00:06

We can’t do that. We can do this, we can do this.” And we’d modify the script accordingly. And so it worked out very well. It was always fun to meet people like that, though, ’cause Hollywood was Hollywood. It’s 1988, you’re the assistant zoological director of SeaWorld, you’re moving up in the corporate structure.

01:00:08 - 01:00:12

How did this position, this assistant zoological director of SeaWorld come about?

01:00:12 - 01:00:18

Was it that you, as you said, raised your hand, or was this a natural transition?

01:00:18 - 01:01:24

It was an interesting transition because I had only been working, after SeaWorld had bought the parks from HBJ, or HBJ bought the parks, or the Marineland park, excuse me, HBJ owned SeaWorld. They bought the Marineland park and then closed it, as I said earlier. And I was there for about a year, a year and a half, two years, maybe, and there was an accident where one of the killer whales breached on top of a trainer who was riding on the back of another whale. And they did an inquiry into the whole thing. And so the zoological director left and the general manager left and a whole bunch of people lost their jobs. And then, Ed Asper, who was an assistant zoological director, took over the whole zoological team, so to speak. And, of course, I knew him when I first started working at Marineland, ’cause he was still a curator there. And so he made me his assistant, which really didn’t go over well with all of the people that would have been in SeaWorld for a long, long time.

01:01:24 - 01:01:39

So I had to double my effort (chuckles) to try and get good relationships built with everybody that had been there for a long, long time. And I was sort of the new kid on the block. So it was fun, but I did the same thing I did in early days of Marineland.

01:01:39 - 01:01:41

I just asked, “Why? What’s your job?

01:01:41 - 01:01:46

What do you do? How can I help you?” Did you have new responsibility?

01:01:46 - 01:02:32

Well, basically, the new responsibilities was encompassing the whole animal collection at that point for all the three SeaWorld parks. And we were in charge of all the, you know, veterinary, education, conservation, animal transport, aviculture, aquarium, so all the different disciplines that were under that, those buckets were under that umbrella. So Ed and I ran the whole thing. And then, later on, when Busch Entertainment bought the parks, we ended up inheriting Busch Gardens Williamsburg and Busch Gardens, Tampa, which also had terrestrial animals. So we entered a new dimension, a new game there. But terrestrial or marine, (chuckles) it was people, I was working with people and animals are animals.

01:02:32 - 01:02:40

And somebody would say, “What are we gonna do with these elephants in Tampa?” And I’d go, “Well, what do you wanna do?

01:02:40 - 01:03:03

And why do you ask? What’s going on?” “Well, we don’t know how to do protected contact.” And I go, Well, I think we should talk about that then and talk about positive reinforcement and talk about the things that make sense, what’s evolving.” And so the evolution worked out fine. So, at this time, there are three parks. You’re not just at San Diego. Correct, I’m now living in Orlando.

01:03:03 - 01:03:08

So it’s San Diego, Orlando, and the third is?

01:03:08 - 01:03:36

Well, actually, there were four for a while. San Antonio was being built in ’88, and SeaWorld of Ohio existed. So, at one time, there was four. Then the SeaWorld park sold the SeaWorld of Ohio park to a theme park that was across the lake, at Geauga Lake. So we moved most of the animals out. Six Flags actually bought it. But you had a responsibility now for all of these parks.

01:03:39 - 01:03:44

At this time, was it you’re still competing, SeaWorld’s still competing with Disney?

01:03:44 - 01:03:46

Was there issues, do we know?

01:03:46 - 01:04:25

I think there’s always competing with Disney in some form or fashion, especially here in the Orlando market because of, you know, Disney World’s here and now Wild Animal Kingdom and Universal Studios with Harry Potter. There’s a lot of competition here in Orlando. I think even in San Diego there was still some feelings that the competition was at Disneyland up in Anaheim. SeaWorld of San Antonio was a little bit of a standalone. It had a rough beginning, because it wasn’t in town. It was outside of the city quite a ways. So it took a while for the development of the city to grow into that particular market for them.

01:04:27 - 01:04:41

Now you had mentioned changing of the guard and so forth, HBJ is, no, Anheuser-Busch purchases SeaWorld from HBJ?

01:04:41 - 01:04:43


01:04:43 - 01:04:44

or another new owner?

01:04:44 - 01:06:00

Another new owner, a very good owner, in a way. They had a division called Busch Entertainment Corporation which owned the Sesame Place park in Philadelphia and the Busch Gardens parks. And it was really interesting, because we had our first sit down with August Busch III, who was the CEO of the corporation. And, of course, he was a gentleman that raised Clydesdale horses, obviously, and was very intent on quality, very intent on success and cleanliness and everything else that you could expect from somebody that runs breweries and runs a large company. But he he sat and listened to us, all the animal people, and listened to what we needed and what we wanted to do and made us, again, extremely cautious about how we would teach him about all the issue. You know, “This is this. This is why we do it and here’s what happens.” And we were fortunate, because his daughter, Ginny Busch, loved animals. And so we had a compatriot in crime, not in crime, but that helped us and helped him understand what we wanted and what we needed to do. It was great to work for him.

01:06:00 - 01:06:25

He was a tough guy to work for, because he remembered everything. And he would fly down to the parks and visit the parks and have tours and, “Fix this, fix that. Change the flowers.” And you better do what you were requested to do or you weren’t around very long. Did you have a personal relationship with him or was it just the big boss who told- No, I developed a good relationship with him.

01:06:25 - 01:06:34

I don’t think it was that personal, per se, but, you know, personal enough that he’d call me at home in the middle of the night ’cause he came up with an idea, and say, “Brad, we gotta do this,” or, “What the hell happened to this animal?

01:06:34 - 01:06:42

You know, I heard it died today. Tell me what happened.” So he was involved, and he knew what we were supposed to do.

01:06:42 - 01:06:47

Is there some good Auggie Busch III story that comes to mind?

01:06:48 - 01:07:47

Well, I think that the neatest story, well, there was a lot of stories, actually, but I was talking to a gentleman named Bob Wright who owned Sealand of the Pacific in Victoria, Canada. And he had three whales. And he wanted to get out of that particular part of that business, ’cause he owned marinas and lodges and things like that. He just didn’t wanna keep taking care of them and put up with the animal activists. So he called me and he said, “Well, what do you think about buying them?” And I said, “Well, that’s an interesting proposition. I have to ask the company.” So I went to the company and proposed, “Look, think about buying the animals.” And August looked at me and he goes, “Is this good for the breeding program?” And I’m going, “Oh, yeah. This is an excellent part of the breeding program.” And he goes, “Okay. Well, let’s go visit.” I go, “Okay, when?” He goes, “Monday.” This was on a Saturday, and here in Orlando.

01:07:47 - 01:08:50

And I go, “Monday?” And he goes, “Yeah, fly up to St Louis and we’ll we’ll take the jet,” ’cause he’s a pilot and he flies around in a jet. So on the way, though, we stopped at Bonners Ferry, Idaho to look at the hops. The hops were being farmed, or harvested the at the time. So that was quite an experience to look at that whole thing. And then we flew from there into Victoria. And he asked me to drive the car, and which I said, “Okay.” So I’m driving the car from the airport into town. And I said, “You know, August, the one thing you have to understand here is that the folks here that work here don’t know that Bob is trying to sell these animals.” And he goes, “Oh, they don’t know?” And I go, “No.” And he goes, “Oh, okay.” And, of course, he’s got on a logoed shirt with a AB on it and everything else. And so we get there and he unravels his little coat and he zips his coat up and he goes, “How’s this?” And I go, “That’s fine, that’s fine.” So we walk in and we starts shaking hands and we walk around and look at the facilities and look at the animals and talk.

01:08:50 - 01:09:04

And, of course, the staff is watching us walk around and look at things. And some of them know who I am for sure, so it wasn’t really a secret what we were doing or why we were there. We just said we were visiting ’cause we were in the area in Idaho.

01:09:04 - 01:09:17

So at the very end of the discussion, and we’re standing there looking at the whales, and he looks at me he goes, (loudly) “So, should we buy them?” (laughs) And I look at everybody around me and I go, “Yep, That’s a good idea.” You need tot cough?

01:09:17 - 01:10:11

(man coughs) So, anyway, the staff there is going, “Wow.” And then, he kind of realized what he’d said and he just goes, “Oh, well, okay. (quietly) Do you wanna buy them? Do we wanna buy?” Anyway, there’s many stories, but he was a quality guy, a quality guy, and he loved the animals. Now, when you moved Orky, you changed the name to Shamu. No, his name was always Orky. When they do the shows, it’s Shamu or Ramu. They had show names in SeaWorld. And that’s always been the name of the animal that’s a out there performing or doing the show or the behaviors. If the public comes up, and one of the things I did, and immediately, was I said, “When the public comes up to you as a trainer or an educator, you tell them who the animal is.” But that was a show name.

01:10:11 - 01:10:21

“This is Kasatka. This is not Shamu.” There is a pygmy whale stranding in 1988.

01:10:21 - 01:10:24

What role does SeaWorld play?

01:10:24 - 01:11:06

We played a major role in the rehab of that animal, and brought the animal here and rehabbed it and got it to eat and took it back out and tagged it and let it go in the Gulf of Mexico. We spent a lot of energy and time on that. We did the same with a gray whale in Southern California, G.G. J.J. was what we called her, not G.G., J.J. And the animal came up on the beach as a 10-foot neonate. We took it down to San Diego and raised it on formula and then whole squid and fish and things like that. And it grew to to 29 feet within 14 months, 15 months. So we made preparations.

01:11:06 - 01:11:31

And we had big logistics were with the Coast Guard to take it out on a Coast Guard trawler off of San Diego with these huge, and another ship that had a crane on it and craned it over the edge and let it go. And off it went with radio packs on it. And we probably spent in the neighborhood of a million dollars to rehab that animal. And it’s unfortunate people forget about the stories like that.

01:11:32 - 01:11:39

And are you being asked to do this or is this part of SeaWorld’s rehabilitation and rescue program?

01:11:39 - 01:11:49

It’s part of SeaWorld’s program. It’s part of their DNA. It’s part of the heritage. It’s part of what we did. And the federal and state governments didn’t reimburse any of the money.

01:11:49 - 01:11:53

So are you getting called at the middle of the night, “We’ve got a whale”?

01:11:53 - 01:12:13

Yeah the network would call all the time and go to a hotline. The hotline would determine that somebody would answer the hotline, determine where it’s at, what kind of animal, how fast do we need to get there, who’s gonna go, what kind of equipment and things like that, and respond as soon as we can based upon the situation and the condition and the logistics.

01:12:13 - 01:12:18

So then all that has to be transferred to move the whale to the park?

01:12:20 - 01:12:50

Yeah, well, the support system and the veterinary care and lab and all that stuff is at the park, and the water. You have to have a body of water contained that you can manage it. It’s very difficult when a lot of stranders happen. Some people think they’re doing good by getting the animal back out to sea. Well, the animal came up for a reason, that it was either lost or sick or injured. They don’t normally just sort of beach themselves because they’re having fun. They’re doing it for a reason. But when you shove them back out, you’re actually putting that animal at risk again.

01:12:50 - 01:12:51

It may die.

01:12:53 - 01:13:01

So during this time period, you’re the assistant zoological director and Ed Asper is the director?

01:13:01 - 01:13:02

Or who’s his boss?

01:13:02 - 01:13:29

Well, there was different people that were running Busch Entertainment Corporation that were running the whole corporation. So Ed worked for the CEO of the corporation, and then I worked for Ed. And then Jerry Lentz from Busch Gardens retired, down in Busch Gardens in Tampa, so Ed was asked to take care of that collection also. So I got introduced to gorillas and chimpanzees and elephants and everything else.

01:13:29 - 01:13:32

That was new territory for you?

01:13:32 - 01:13:58

It was, it was new territory. It was new animals, but, again, it was, to me, the same him kinds of issues. It was people. You had to deal with the people first, find out what the relationship was with the animals, and try and provide the best practices with each other. You know, it was fun to work with them, because the staff there was just as engaging as they were at SeaWorld. And they were just animal lovers. The passion was there. They had a fire in their hearts.

01:13:58 - 01:14:38

It was really fun to work with them. As we were walking over here, I pointed out to you the little flamingo parade. Well, when I was in Japan years ago, I was at a park and they had this flamingo show where you’d sit down and they played classical music. And, suddenly, out of the midst of these bushes, a flock of 40 flamingos come out. And two people come out standing there in these little elegant, white suits. And they’d just move their hands, or their gloved hands, or some sort of directional. And the animals split up into two groups. They all raised their wings in unison.

01:14:38 - 01:15:22

And when people are sitting there watching it and there’s this classical music, I’m thinking, “This is pretty cool.” And then they’d go across the water together. And then they’d separate again into three groups and four groups. And I’m watching this thinking, “This is phenomenal. These birds are doing a beautiful type of presentation, but showing off the quality of their long legs and their wings and their beaks and everything, and nobody’s saying a word.” So I brought the video home and I showed it to all of our bird curators in the SeaWorld and the Busch Gardens parks. And they all looked at me like, “You’re crazy. We’re not gonna do that, or we can’t do that.” Well, the Busch Gardens bird curator said, “I can do that.” And I said, “Good on you, Mike.” And he did it. And so now we do it, and people love it. It’s just phenomenal.

01:15:22 - 01:15:50

And, again, that’s an idea you found somewhere else in the world and you shared it with somebody and just said, “Come on, we can do this, can’t we?” And so it was that kind of growth and that type of comradery that made it work. Now, I’m going to maybe jump ahead. You said something here, and that is that, ultimately, you become director of zoo operations for Busch. In ’91.

01:15:50 - 01:16:03

leaves, and he gives you a notebook with a note that says, “Good luck.” True? And what was in the notebook?

01:16:04 - 01:17:11

Well, (chuckles) it was sort of an ironic situation. Ed had left. (objects clattering) (door slams) Ed had left in ’91, and so I then was elevated to the top. And John Roberts, who was running Busch Entertainment, asked me at that time, he said, “Can you go down to Tampa and talk with Jerry?” And I go, “Well, sure.” And I go, “And what do you want me to do down there?” And he says, “Well, I just think Jerry needs some help.” And I go, “Jerry doesn’t need any help. He’s doing fine. He needs you guys to help him more.” And he goes, “Well, I need to know how we can help him more, because somehow we’re just not getting connected.” And I said, “Okay.” So anyway, I went down and talked to Jerry and said, “Jerry, I’m down here to help. What do you need me to help you with?” And it was ironic, ’cause we were walking through the Edge of Africa construction site at the time, and one of his curators was having an argument with one of the contractors. And they’re standing there yelling at each other over these drawings out in the middle of the dirt field.

01:17:11 - 01:18:06

And we walk up, and I kind of thought, “Well, what’s going on here?” And everybody was really quiet for a minute. And the curator kept saying, “Well, they’re not building the overhang for the monkeys, and different than the way I wanted it done.” And I go, “Well.” And I sat there and I waited and waited. And I was quiet, and then, finally, I just said, “Well, wait a minute. Let me see the drawing.” So I look at the drawing and the drawing’s this. And I said, “Did you sign off on the drawing?” He goes, “Yes, but they’re now redrawn. It’s a redraw, and it’s shorter. It’s about this much shorter, and the cantilever of the roof is gonna allow the monkeys to get out.” And I said, “Well, then let’s change it.” And the contractor goes, “Well, we can’t change it now.” And I said, “Well, you haven’t built it. Why can’t you change it?” And, finally, Jerry goes, “Brad’s helping us here. Let’s change it.” (laughs) So Jerry and I became fast friends where we could figure out how to help each other.

01:18:06 - 01:18:19

And then, a short time later, a couple of years later, Jerry decided that was it so he went to retire. So we put somebody else down there. But, still, my introduction to that group was fun. And they were good people.

01:18:19 - 01:18:21

Did he leave you a notebook?

01:18:21 - 01:18:42

I don’t remember a notebook. I don’t know. I know he said good luck a lot of times, but I can’t remember or recall that he gave me a notebook. Okay, well, I just wanted to jump ahead ’cause you mentioned his name. But just to back up, you become zoological director of SeaWorld, 1991 to 1998.

01:18:43 - 01:18:48

And was this, again, Ed Asper leaves?

01:18:49 - 01:18:51

You raised your hand, or?

01:18:51 - 01:19:05

No, John Roberts just called me and said, “You’re it.” And I said, “Okay.” “You’re gonna be zoological director of operations,” and I said, “Okay.” And did your responsibilities change?

01:19:07 - 01:19:30

I mean, you’re the top guy now. Well, the responsibilities just got more intense. I mean, there was more meetings and more contacts and more responsibility, obviously, ’cause you’re now the one being called at four in the morning and seven at night and ten at night and things like that. And sometimes I was called before, but, yeah, I was it.

01:19:30 - 01:19:36

And as the new zoological director, do you have a voice in animal acquisitions now?

01:19:36 - 01:19:37

Can you make big decisions?

01:19:39 - 01:20:20

The activity level changed dramatically, but any time we decided to get involved with an acquisition of an animal, or a disposition of an animal, I would just simply take it to my boss, John, and others who succeeded him, and just said, “Here’s what I’m doing, here’s why. I just want you to know. I’m not gonna surprise you.” One of the things I learned early on, way back in my Marineland days, don’t surprise the boss, and hopefully the boss won’t surprise you. And so communication up and down is so important, and sideways, so that you just, you know, don’t surprise people, ’cause that doesn’t make for good relationship. And it worked out very well.

01:20:21 - 01:20:26

Now, this new position, it’s, again, all over the United States?

01:20:27 - 01:20:47

It is, the animals were at Busch Gardens Tampa and Busch Gardens Williamsburg, the three SeaWorld parks, ’cause Ohio now had closed. We built Discovery Cove in the early ’90s. Aquatica has animals, now across the street here in Orlando. So there are animals at all those locations.

01:20:48 - 01:20:56

Were there any animals, terrestrial animals, at the time that you said, “Oh my gosh, we got these?

01:20:56 - 01:21:24

What am I gonna do?” There was, in Williamsburg, we had a somewhat of a children’s petting zoo, very old-fashioned. And I was talking to the curator there. And we were there during the middle of the summer. And there was a little bit of an ugly, old exhibit. And it was like a pit. And it had a few pieces of shade structures in it. And there was these little cinnamon bear cubs running around in it. They weren’t big animals.

01:21:24 - 01:21:26

And I didn’t know much about them and where they came from.

01:21:26 - 01:21:29

And I just said, “Well, what’s with this bear deal?

01:21:29 - 01:22:19

Why do we have little bears here?” And he says, “Well, they come from Bear World in Montana,” or something like that. And I go, “What? Bear World?” And I didn’t even know it existed. And I said, “Well, what are we doing after the summer?” And he said, “Well, we send them back.” And I go, “Well, wait a minute, we just can’t be taking bear cubs down here for the summer and then sending them back. This doesn’t make sense.” So we decided that this wasn’t a practical, sustainable solution and it didn’t seem like the right thing to do for those little bears. So we stopped doing that and switched to some other types of animals that made more sense in terms of what children would wanna do and, you know, interact with certain animals. So it was fascinating. And in Tampa, for instance, they had this bat cavern, a big building that was bats inside of it. And it’s still there today.

01:22:19 - 01:23:11

And I often thought, “This doesn’t make a lot of sense, because hardly anybody goes into it and people don’t really like bats,” even though they should, ’cause bats are important. But it wasn’t really the type of facility I liked. And so there was many, many times where I said, “We gotta change this,” or, “We gotta change this.” And it’s like elephants, we went from hands-on to protected contact. And the keepers there didn’t wanna do it and I just said, “We’re gonna do it, and we’re gonna do it in one day. We’re gonna finish the new facility, and we’re gonna move the elephants and that’s it. You’re still gonna touch them, but it’s be with protected contact, there’s rules.” And, of course, somebody asked me, “Well, does that mean we’re never gonna have anybody hurt here?” And I go, “No, no, no. If a person makes a mistake, we’re gonna have somebody hurt.” So there was a new challenge, new challenges. For knowing something about elephants, you breezed through that pretty quickly.

01:23:11 - 01:23:41

I’m sure that team was a little more, “Oh, okay boss.” No, the team, they did not wanna make the change. And some of them we found other jobs in the park because they said, “Well, we don’t wanna do that.” And I said, “I respect that. That’s fine with me. We’ll get you another job. You’re a good animal person. That’s okay.” So we did that, and then one of them, two of them stuck it out to the transition. And after the transition, both of those individuals said, “This is wonderful.

01:23:41 - 01:23:57

This works, and they’re happy.” I said, “Good, thanks.” At what time did the company decide that killer whales would be the highlighted species of the park?

01:23:57 - 01:24:03

Was it already decided, or was it during your time as the zoological director?

01:24:03 - 01:24:36

I think the killer whales were always the highlight and the spotlight of the SeaWorld parks, way before I even got to SeaWorld. So I didn’t really have anything to do with using them as our icon species or part of our logo. It was already part of the marketing scheme and the marketing strategies. And that was in place way before I got there. So now we’re gonna jump a little ahead. Now you are the director of zoological operations for Busch Entertainment, 1998 to 2008.

01:24:37 - 01:24:40

This is where you take over from Jerry’s position?

01:24:45 - 01:24:58

Correct. And this is, again, “I raise my hand,” or they just, you just- No, it was just an assumption that that was my role, and I took it over.

01:25:01 - 01:25:06

Are you really overwhelmed with all of this or is it just more intense?

01:25:06 - 01:25:11

It seems like, now, you said before it was, I’ll use my word, intense.

01:25:11 - 01:25:14

Now there’s even bigger responsibilities?

01:25:14 - 01:25:42

Well, certainly it brought more responsibilities and more meetings and more activity. But I had grown accustomed to that kind of a work ethic and that work. It was like 120 miles an hour all the time. And it was on the West Coast and East Coast. It wasn’t just one place. So I was always going, going, going. I mean, I have to tell you though, at Marineland of the Pacific, when I was hired there I had a long curly brown hair. Well, look at me today.

01:25:43 - 01:26:43

So it did take its toll, but I lived and breathed with the people and the animals. I felt like they were part of my responsibility to take good care of them and the best care possible. And so I fought in every way that we could take care of the animals and the people. Because regardless of who the boss was or regardless of which company, they needed our help because they depended upon it. It’s almost like, you know, if you wanna look at what’s going on around in the world today, there’s animals going away, there’s diminishing populations, a huge population of people, but yet, the human being is really the only life form that can make a difference for animals. They either can help animals or harm animals. The animals can’t change a thing. So I’ve looked at it and I always taught people, “You can change the animal’s environment, you can change their food, you can change their behavior, you need to help them live a robust life because you’re the one that’s caring for them.

01:26:43 - 01:27:10

That’s your job, and I think that’s important.” And I wish more people would do that for wild animals. So are you essentially the buffer between the people at Busch Entertainment and the people who work under you in trying to explain the- I wouldn’t necessarily refer to it as a buffer. I was certainly there chief liaison person. But, again, I had to really understand what they needed.

01:27:10 - 01:27:12

“Tell me what you need, and why do you need that?

01:27:12 - 01:27:14

What’s the issue here?

01:27:14 - 01:27:15

What are we gonna gain?

01:27:15 - 01:27:16

What’s the animal gonna gain?

01:27:16 - 01:27:31

What’s the issues?” and so we could lay out sort of the educational pitch. And most of the time, as long as it was done in a very laid-out manner and very orderly, the folks at Busch Entertainment were great, absolutely great.

01:27:31 - 01:27:41

But, you know, if you come up with a half-ass idea off the cuff and speculate and things like that, they look at you like, “Well, what the heck?

01:27:41 - 01:28:03

You’re not very well prepared with this, are you?” So you have to be prepared to do that. And I can remember a time where John Roberts asked me, he says, “If we build this Wild Arctic structure, in Orlando it’s hot. So we’re probably gonna have to enclose it.” And I had known. I had thought about that ahead of time. And I wasn’t sure if we were gonna get to that point in the development.

01:28:03 - 01:28:27

But he said, “Well, can all the animals live indoors?” And I said, “Sure, as long as they have an outdoor facility too that’s attached.” “So they can live indoors?” And I go, “Yeah.” And so that was probably one of the few times I probably winged it off the cuff, because, you know, polar bears and beluga whales, walruses?

01:28:27 - 01:28:30

But we did we built the facility indoor and outdoor.

01:28:32 - 01:28:36

Did you have a say in research and conservation projects now?

01:28:36 - 01:28:43

Yeah, the research and conservation was under my umbrella too. We had some great folks that do science, great conservation programs.

01:28:43 - 01:28:59

At one point, also, I went to August Busch and John Roberts and said, I don’t remember what year it was, it’s been about 14 years ago, maybe, with Ginny Busch, and we said, “We wanna start a not for profit.” And he looked at me and he goes, “What do you mean not for profit?

01:28:59 - 01:29:37

We’re for profit.” And I go, “No, no, no, no, we wanna start a foundation within the company that’s a 501c3 that we can raise money to do conservation outside the company.” Even though the company was spending lots of money on these programs. I said, “Now we can get our guests involved and our vendors and other donors that can’t give to the private corporation, but can give to the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Conservation Fund.” So we started that fund. And in this year alone, this is 14th year I’m still the director of that fund, we’ve given out over $14 million to projects all over the world.

01:29:37 - 01:29:42

And I’m gonna talk about that in more detail, but this was your baby?

01:29:42 - 01:29:46

Yeah, it was my baby, and Ginny’s.

01:29:49 - 01:29:59

Did you have other conservation or research things that you said, “And that way I can be the champion of it now that I’m in this position”?

01:29:59 - 01:30:35

Absolutely, there was a lot of different conservation and research we wanted to involved ourselves with. With killer whale research in Iceland we did a lot of work. We did a lot of work with penguins in South Africa, which we still do today. We’ve done a lot of work in terms of ornamental fish. One of the things I kept telling people, especially at AZA in the marine fish tag, I just said, “You know, there’s gonna be a day where a French angel fish, you know, 20 years ago is this big and it costs $10 from a distributor or a wholesaler.

01:30:35 - 01:30:40

Well, now a French angel fish is this big and it costs $500 why?

01:30:41 - 01:31:06

Well, because there aren’t any more big ones. And the world is getting smaller and the coral reefs are getting smaller and the fish are not as sustainable as they used to be. We need to be able to raise these kinds of fish.” And they looked at me and go, “Oh, Brad. Come on, this isn’t like dolphins.” And I said it at the one meeting, and this was a couple years back. And the next year, by that time we had started Rising Tide.

01:31:06 - 01:31:17

And Dr. Judy St. Leger, who was a veterinarian and a pathologist within our group, basically asked me, she said, “So you really wanna do this, don’t you?” And I said, “Absolutely, why can’t we raise fish?

01:31:17 - 01:32:09

It seems like we can raise everything else.” So we started this program and we got aquariums around North America to put special skimmer nets in their skimmer baskets. And, most of the time, the spawning goes on late at night in the different big, large aquariums with the many schooling fish. So they’d take these eggs, they’d overnight them down to a lab in Ruskin, Florida, where we got the University Of Florida grad students working on this. They were doing aquaculture on tilapia and shrimp. So we started this work with marine ornamental fish. And now we have raised 22 species of marine ornamental fish that were never raised before. And it’s beautiful, because there’s young scientists, or young researchers, they get these eggs. And the eggs change dramatically at certain day and intervals.

01:32:09 - 01:32:45

And their food source changes at different intervals. And we didn’t know what species they were until they got to certain stages. So these guys are unlocking the nuts and the bolts of each one of these different egg… We don’t know what the eggs are when they show up, ’cause they don’t identify themselves and they don’t raise a fin. There is no fin. And so it’s really a fascinating thing to realize that we can make a difference. Well, interesting, because aquariums are many times thought to be users of fish wildlife and not doing very much in the breeding.

01:32:45 - 01:32:55

Is this information getting out to people, that this kind of program or programs that, obviously, many aquariums are participating in?

01:32:55 - 01:33:32

It seems like a big deal. And I think the aquarium community has embraced this. In fact, the marine mammal, excuse me, the marine fish tag that was just held in Indianapolis two weeks ago or three weeks ago, they praised the Rising Tide program. And they’re all involved, everybody’s involved. So they have embraced it. They’re all involved in it. They talking about new species, what they can do to help regionally, what we can do more globally too within Europe and Southeast Asia where other aquaculture and mariculture goes on. We’re talking about doing work a lot more with corals.

01:33:32 - 01:33:54

So the old user term is no longer there. It’s becoming more of a sustainable aquarium for the future. You’re owned by Busch Entertainment. In 2009, Busch Entertainment is sold to Blackstone Groups and renamed SeaWorld Entertainment.

01:33:56 - 01:33:59

Again, just another change in ownership?

01:33:59 - 01:34:38

Does this affect- Actually Anheuser-Busch sold to a company called InBev, which was a beer company, a large beverage company out of Europe. They bought the Anheuser-Busch breweries, the brand, and the parks came with it. So there was about a year in there that we worked for InBev. That was not very much fun. They didn’t want us. We were this, you know, stepchild. So, at that particular time, our CEO, Jim Atchison, asked the people at InBev, “Can I go out and find someone?” So he found Blackstone, an investment firm, to come in and buy the parks. And they’re an equity company.

01:34:38 - 01:34:40

And we became a private company.

01:34:41 - 01:34:46

Can you give me an example, just ’cause you said it, of not very much fun?

01:34:46 - 01:34:47

They didn’t care about the animals or?

01:34:47 - 01:35:15

Well, the InBev folks, their interests were not in the animals of the parks. They were a beer company. We’d have meetings with them and chat with them, and they’d go, “That’s nice. Stick to the budget. Do well, and we’ll see what happens in the future.” So you could feel you weren’t part of the family like we were with AB. And the Blackstone folks were bankers. And they were good guys though. They listened to us.

01:35:16 - 01:35:35

And everything worked out just fine until, finally, as most equity banking companies do, they do an IPO and you go public again. And that’s when we ended up with public people buying stock and people coming on the board. And then it got a lot more complicated.

01:35:37 - 01:35:43

Are you really traveling a lot during this time as directors of zoological operations?

01:35:44 - 01:36:25

I’m traveling all the time as zoological director, to all of the parks. We have meetings. We have a yearly meeting where all our zoo professionals come together, and we have meetings with our educators and a meeting with our veterinarians and I travel around the world to different facilities. I’m on the steering committee of the Captive Breeding Specialist Group. It’s one of the species survival commissions under IUCN. I’m president and chairman of AZA for a while. I’m president of the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks & Aquariums for a while. And so I’m probably on the road 60% of the time and taking care of people and animals.

01:36:27 - 01:36:31

What type of evolution did the parks take?

01:36:31 - 01:36:39

‘Cause you started a while back, and now it’s 2008 and you’re director of zoo operations.

01:36:39 - 01:36:42

What kind of evolution did you see occurring?

01:36:42 - 01:37:32

I saw an evolution in a lot of different areas. I saw an evolution in terms of our ability to do more conservation and more research and more education. I saw the ability of the animal activist extremists to start creating a picture of doom and gloom, and we do poorly, criticizing us, protesting. So this is even before the advent of social media and the different tools that are in play today. So I could see it. Some of the arguments we’d have, with the Humane Society of the United States, for instance, was, “These animals shouldn’t be in captivity.” And I’d say, “Well, they’re doing fine in captivity. They’re doing fine in our care. And we’re we’re part of education.

01:37:32 - 01:38:22

We’re part of public education. We’re part of conservation.” And that movement was getting stronger and stronger, you know, because it was started with the farm animals and animals in entertainment and animals in Hollywood. And it was drifting towards zoos and aquariums, especially on dolphins and whales. And a lot of folks out there that worked with dolphins and whales would sort of quit and then criticize. And they were criticizing with absolutely no knowledge whatsoever, that they didn’t care about their credibility anymore, they didn’t care about their accountability. They could lie and nobody cared. And so it was sad to sort of watch the social change coming. And I think a lot of zoo and aquariums were not paying attention to that.

01:38:22 - 01:39:11

I don’t think they were paying attention to the public and the millennials that were coming of age. And the people that were coming to zoos and aquariums love zoos and aquarium. But there were some people that were hearing messages and suddenly saying, “Well, we maybe we don’t wanna go because maybe that’s true.” And so I saw that sort of cultural changes going on in the public that was affecting our work. And they didn’t really care about whether or not we were rescuing or rehabbing animals and were releasing them. It was whether or not this baby dolphin should be here. And it came from a lot of different sources. PETA they’re out there pushing curriculum into the grammar schools, “You shouldn’t even take care of animals. You shouldn’t even have pets.” So there was a wave of dissension coming.

01:39:11 - 01:40:26

And it was silent. but it was getting more vocal. And it was a small percentage, but it was effecting people, especially today with the social media blogs and the way they can do it. So I saw changes in our company in terms of our ability to… I always wanted to be able to say that we were on the leading edge of everything we could be involved with, whether it’s raising fish, like I was just talking about, or being sustainable. Probably from ’91 to 2016, I think we ended up having sustainable processes in like 25 or 30 different species of animals, bottle nose dolphins, California sea lions, harbor steels, killer whales, beluga whales, seven different species of penguins. And like I said now, I just mentioned fish too and flamingos. I mean, that to me was the key was for genetic sustainability and diversity for the future so that we could have these animals for the public, but we could also study them and have other people study them so that they could unlock that puzzle from the wild that’s not known.

01:40:26 - 01:40:28

And how we would do that?

01:40:28 - 01:41:01

And inspire people to say, “I wanna help flamingos in the wild. I wanna help penguins in the wild. How do we connect the dots to a guest who sees a penguin and says, “I wanna help. How do we do that?” That’s the biggest challenge ever. Part of this evolution, you had indicated, in the beginning with moving, you must be moving animals potentially from park to park or at least having the ability to do it. It seems very complicated. And you’ve explained it a bit.

01:41:01 - 01:41:07

Did the moving of killer whales or dolphins and so forth evolve into even a smoother type of thing?

01:41:07 - 01:41:12

It seems, to me, complicated to move it rather than an elephant, but that’s what I know.

01:41:14 - 01:41:19

Was it getting better as you were understanding things more or did techniques essentially stay the same?

01:41:19 - 01:42:19

No, I think it all evolved, equipment evolved. Dr. Jim McBain, who I worked with for many, many years, was our chief veterinarian. And he always realized that some of the respiration rates on some of the cetaceans seemed to be a little bit higher when we were flying. And so we started talking to some of the pilots, realizing that human beings who get air sick, not everybody gets air sick, but a few people do, what causes them to get air sick is because, if you’re flying at 35,000 feet, the outside air pressure is 35,000 feet. The air pressure inside the airplane is not. It’s about 10,000 feet. And that can cause people to get a little drowsy or a little sick. And what we were realizing, that 10,000 cabin pressure was creating those animals, that are free breathers, you know, they have to exhale, inhale, and it was causing them a little bit to respire a little faster because they needed that exchange.

01:42:19 - 01:43:34

So Jim talked to one of the pilots on one of our flights one day and said, “Well, can we change the internal cabin pressure?” And he goes, “Sure.” He says, “The temperature may get a little colder.” And I said, “Well, getting colder is not gonna hurt anybody. We’ll put a jacket on. The animals are fine.” So we started reducing the air pressure inside. And lo and behold, that was the difference. So the equipment changed, the logistics changed, the load masters who we used had gotten really knowledgeable, the equipment we put the… We could load a plane, a 747, with four killer whales and four lemon sharks and 25 penguins and boxes of silver moon fish and things like that, we could load that thing in probably two hours and fly it all the way Tenerife in Spain in nine hours and unload it within an hour and have those animals, pool to pool, 14 hours total, 15 hours, which is phenomenal. Now, again in 2008 to 2016, you’re now the chief zoological officer for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, promoted to this top level position.

01:43:36 - 01:43:43

Again, did you raise your hand or was us ’cause you were around and doing a good job?

01:43:43 - 01:43:55

Well, I think my actions were being rewarded, again, positive reinforcement. I did a good job, they said, “Keep doing a good job. Here you go.” It was a new title.

01:43:55 - 01:43:57

You didn’t replace anybody?

01:43:57 - 01:44:15

No, they created the title based upon the new corporate structure. We all became officers because it was a public company now. And I thought, “Well, sure, call me what you want. I was a fish boy one day, so I don’t care. It doesn’t make any difference, I don’t care what you call me, it’s not gonna hurt my feelings.

01:44:15 - 01:44:26

I just got a job to do.” And, again, more responsibilities, or pretty much more of the same?

01:44:26 - 01:44:30

The responsibilities, basically, were much the same.

01:44:30 - 01:44:46

However, we he now had a board of directors who, again, wanted to know about why would we do this and why would we, you know, “What’s the criticism coming from Tilikum the whale?

01:44:46 - 01:45:24

“What’s going on here?” So you had to spend more energy trying to explain to them a 40-year history or a 45-year history leading up to that particular point in time, why we’re talking about these things or why this seems to be an issue or why it’s not an issue. But it it’s an issue with this group, not for us. So, again, some of the activists and extremism really bothered them a lot, why were we being criticized, because they’re board members of a public company. I don’t think they like that. I can’t say I blamed them. You said you were on the road 60% of the time.

01:45:24 - 01:45:26

How’s this affecting your personal life?

01:45:27 - 01:46:14

It always affected my personal life in some form. My wife is a wonderful person and she has a busy life with her horses and we share common interests when we’re together. I’d always communicate with her when I was moving. And I imagine one of the things that was most fulfilling for both of us is we could share the stories of what we were doing, and they were all animal related. I actually met her at SeaWorld in San Diego in the aquarium department. So we had a common background, a common knowledge, and we loved to take care of animals. And we knew how to do it well. And so there was always a good camaraderie and I loved her and she loved me and it worked.

01:46:17 - 01:46:27

So, right now, is the structure- And it still works. (laughs) Good, is the structure at SeaWorld the same?

01:46:27 - 01:46:36

That is, what does SeaWorld consist of in 2008 to ’16 when you’re the chief zoological officer?

01:46:37 - 01:46:43

The consistency of the animal group or the zoological umbrella really stayed very much the same.

01:46:46 - 01:46:48

Do you have San Antonio or, no, that’s gone?

01:46:48 - 01:47:21

No, no, San Antonio was still part of the mix, it’s all the parks that they have. There was 11 parks, and I think seven of them had animals. So everything was just moving along just fine. And where we started to run into some more problems simply was in 2010 when we had a terrible accident. One of our trainers was killed, drowned. And it was horrible, absolutely horrible. And that started to change a lot of things. We decided not to stay in the water with some of the whales.

01:47:21 - 01:48:23

And then we decided to get out of the water completely. The criticism from the activists got stronger. Somewhere around 2013, a documentary was sold to CNN and they played it over and over and over and over again. And it was called “Blackfish.” And it was a slick, slick documentary, but it was a total lie. There was only two things true in it, that SeaWorld 40 years ago collected animals from the wild legally, and that we had a terrible accident. The rest of it was BS. But, yet, it was shown so many times. In fact, I’ll tell you a little sidebar, I was getting a haircut two weeks ago and the woman says, “Wow, are you retired?” And I’m going, “Well, I’m trying not to. (laughs) But yeah, I guess so. I’m getting there.” She goes, “Well, what’d you do?” And I said, “Well, I took care of animals.” “Oh, really? Were you a veterinarian?” And I said, “No, no, no, I was the zoological director for SeaWorld and Busch Gardens.” “Really?” And then she (imitates zipper whooshing), quiet.

01:48:23 - 01:49:30

And I sat there. And I’m looking at her in the mirror now ’cause she’s clipping my hair from behind. I said, “So you saw ‘Blackfish.'” And she goes, “Yes.” I go, “Well, tell me, what’d you think?” And she says, “Well, why did you separate the babies from their mothers?” And I go, “We didn’t.” She goes, “What do you mean? It said so in the movie.” I said, “The only things that were true in that movie were those two things. And the rest of the stuff was bullshit.” Excuse my language. And she looked at me and she goes, “You’re kidding me.” I’m going, “You don’t have to believe me, but I’m telling you, I was there. That movie was a false documentary, terrible.” She goes, “My God.” And then a couple minutes later she goes, “So I can bring my kids back to SeaWorld?” And I go, “Yes, you can.” And I thought that was stunning, that that type of a media, complicit media, CNN was complicit in showing falsehoods that was terribly wrong. It was terribly wrong for the people that worked here, terribly wrong for us who had managed it for years. And it wasn’t true.

01:49:30 - 01:49:38

But yet, the activists loved it. And from that point on, things got just a little bit more hairy every day.

01:49:39 - 01:49:45

Now, what impact did that have on the marine mammal presentations?

01:49:45 - 01:50:24

At the time, none, other than the trainer’s out of the water. That didn’t bother me as much as the fact that we were being criticized for poor care, which isn’t true at all. The movie continually talked about we’d mistreated the animals and we did this and we did that. It wasn’t true at all. In fact, one of the ex-employees in the movie claims we took terrible care of Tilikum. Poor guy, we just abused him. Well, that particular ex-employee never even worked with the whales, didn’t even know. He had fired him because he kicked an otter in the head. That’s how badly these people lied.

01:50:25 - 01:50:26

Now I’m getting angry.

01:50:26 - 01:50:34

No, no, now, you met mentioned that the orca, Tilikum, can you give just a brief overview?

01:50:34 - 01:50:39

Tilikum was from Marineland, or he was brought and then he stayed?

01:50:39 - 01:50:45

What was his story that led up to the incident at the park?

01:50:45 - 01:51:59

Tilikum was collected in Iceland by an another entity back in ’80, ’79 or ’80, I don’t remember exactly the year. It was taken to Sealand of the Pacific in Victoria, Canada and lived there for many years with two other female whales. Those animals up there were never desensitized to water work or having somebody get in the water with them, either shallow water or deep water or anything. So they never were sort of trained to leave the person alone and just sit there. At SeaWorld we did that. So there was an individual up there who had on boots and rain gear and two heavy buckets of fish one day and fell into the pool fully dressed with her two buckets. All three whales pushed her around the pool until she drowned. And when we brought Tilikum from Sealand to SeaWorld of Orlando, we had a note put out to everybody that we wouldn’t be getting in the water with Tilikum because of his history.

01:51:59 - 01:52:52

And we treated him with the utmost respect and care and took care of him. We then, I don’t remember exactly what year, we had a vagrant who had snuck into the park and hid in the bushes who was on drugs decide to go skinny dipping one night with Tilikum. And they found him the next morning. He had drowned. So, in 2010, when Dawn Brancheau, our trainer, happened to get in the water with him by accident, he’s rehearsed what he had known. He pushed her around in the water until she drowned. It was a tragic, horrible accident. Did that then or does it now, the orca show at one time was, I’ll say very entertaining, and hopefully with an educational thing.

01:52:52 - 01:52:53

Has it changed?

01:52:53 - 01:52:58

Has there been a new message or a new direction of the training for the public?

01:53:00 - 01:53:31

There’s been new shows introduced now called Orca Encounter, I think. I haven’t seen them. I’m no longer directly affiliated with that portion of the company. That is more focused on their behavior, which the other shows were too. And it’s probably more focused on education and conservation than the other shows were. It’s still a demonstration and it’s still a time that everybody goes and sits down and listens. I don’t know what the impact is to the guests in terms of do they like it or do they not. I just don’t know.

01:53:31 - 01:53:33

And you’ve talked about the different parks.

01:53:33 - 01:53:38

Does each park have a specialty or are they essentially the same?

01:53:38 - 01:54:01

Most of the SeaWorld parks were somewhat the same. They had the same type of entities in it, or the same type of animal, the same type of… In the recent years, the parks have evolved into more family entertainment with roller coasters and other types of virtual realities and things like that, which I guess the public demands nowadays. I don’t know.

01:54:02 - 01:54:04

What is Sea Rescue?

01:54:04 - 01:54:39

Sea Rescue is just sort of a brand within the company that talks about our rescue programs. It was a logo, or it was a logo and an idea that we could talk more about that, which I thought was a great idea. ‘Cause our rescue and rehab and release program, we’ve done it for 40 some odd, 50 years or so as the company progressed, but I don’t think the public understood it that much, nor did they hear about it much. So I think the marketing folks thought it was a good idea to sort of brand the rescue. Which was good, and I said, “It’s about time we talk about it.

01:54:39 - 01:54:53

It’s a good thing.” As the main animal person, do you become the spokesperson for SeaWorld in this area or is this left to public relations?

01:54:53 - 01:54:56

Or do they just lean on you for information?

01:54:56 - 01:55:34

Well they’d certainly lean on you for information in terms of… But I was usually the spokesperson. Julie Scardina also was our spokesperson. I’ll always kid Julie, Julie was beautiful and she was great with animals and she loved animals. And she still does. And she still works in conservation programs and all around the world. But Julie got to do all of the good stuff, (chuckles) and I got to do all the bad stuff. And then, somewhere around 2015, end of ’14 and ’15, Dr. Chris Dold, who is our chief veterinary officer, started to do more of the lead spokesperson issues.

01:55:34 - 01:55:57

And it made sense, simply because we were getting attacked again and again on the care of the animals. And I’m not a veterinarian. I’m certainly an experienced animal person, but we thought that that would be somewhat of a better front. And I don’t mean that in a demeaning way, ’cause Chris is a very intelligent man and spoke very well. And it was just, to me, that was a little bit of a relief, actually.

01:55:59 - 01:56:04

As the chief officer, how many direct reports do you have?

01:56:05 - 01:56:31

We didn’t really have, I didn’t have a lot of direct reports. It was like seven or eight. Each park ran autonomously to a park general manager. So they had dotted lines from each park to me. So there was a VP of zoological operations at each park that had all of their disciplines, similar in terms of animal training, aviculture, aquarium conservation and education, veterinary care. What’d I forget? I don’t know, all of them.

01:56:31 - 01:56:32

Similar to what you had done?

01:56:32 - 01:57:05

Yeah, exactly. And then, at the corporate level, we had somebody that was sort of in constant in each one of those little buckets. They’re not little. So they would have dotted lines to everybody else at the parks. But it was a nice spiderweb, ’cause it worked well. Everybody communicated well. And we went to the parks and talked. But it wasn’t the same as when, in my earlier days at Marineland where you’d go to take rounds at every park. But I insisted that people at the parks take a rounds and go see.

01:57:05 - 01:57:08

“Don’t sit at your desk, and don’t play with your computer.

01:57:08 - 01:57:16

Go out and see the animals.” You spoke a little about it, but what would you say is your management style?

01:57:16 - 01:57:19

And does it change or stay the same?

01:57:19 - 01:57:46

I don’t believe my management style has changed since the day I got in the fish house. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve probably lost patience a lot quicker. I’ve learned how to sort of mellow out a little bit now, but that was just simply because I would get frustrated with people because they wouldn’t investigate.

01:57:46 - 01:57:49

They wouldn’t ask, “Why are we doing this?

01:57:49 - 01:58:27

Why are we moving this animal?” Or, “Why should I give it this fish?” Or, “I can’t do that.” Or, what was worse, I’d hate it when somebody would say, “Well, we always do it this way.” And I’d say, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, I don’t wanna hear that. That’s not a good reason, because things change all the time.” But, again, I always ask the questions, “Why are you doing that?” And I know a lot of people seem to think of me, “Well, God, he’s not very smart.” But I didn’t ever profess to be smart, I just professed to put good people around me. That’s the important thing. If you have good people you have good care. You’re recognized for supporting your staff.

01:58:27 - 01:58:30

Why is say that important to you?

01:58:30 - 01:58:57

Well, I think it’s important because, again, it goes back to, if you’re playing a sport like rugby, you have to support each other to win. And if you don’t support, I don’t want you on the team. And so I support them simply because they work hard for their animals and they work hard to talk to the public and they work hard to educate. So if they do a good job, I wanna help them because they’re the ones doing it.

01:58:59 - 01:59:08

Can you relate what SeaWorld and other marine mammal centers have done for the advancement of killer whale husbandry and the science of studying these animals?

01:59:09 - 02:00:12

All of the places that have held killer whales and cared for killer whales over the years have done a tremendous job of adding to the literature. We’ve, again, gone back to fill in those pieces of the puzzle that weren’t known. When we first started talking about killer whale reproduction, for instance, everyone just assumed, in fact, it was written in the science, it was written by doctors, PhD students, that their gestation period was 12 months because they assumed, because they are a Delphinidae, they’re really a dolphin, they call them a killer whale but they’re they in the dolphin family, they just made the assumption that they have a 12 months gestation just like other dolphins. Well, we found out that’s not true. It’s 16 months. And we found out exactly what is in the capabilities or the content of the milk. Which is very very important for the southern resident whales up in Puget sound right now, because the milk is being tainted because the mothers are eating contaminated salmon. So there’s knowledge being gained that we could actually do something to intervene and help If we had to.

02:00:12 - 02:01:12

The extremists and activists, animal activists, wouldn’t want us to. But I told an activist the other day, “If we really wanna save the southern resident whales, I bet you we could teach them to eat different fish.” She says, “Well, we don’t want them in captivity.” And I said, “I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about we have trainers good enough that I bet you we can reinforce them and change their food source so they’re not eating the bad salmon.” And she looked at me and she said, “I don’t think that would be possible. We wouldn’t allow that.” And I’m going, “So you want them to go extinct?” “Well, no, I don’t.” Well, yes, you do. So back to the point though, we have learned so much about killer whales, and we’ve exposed the public to them in many, many ways. Killer whales in the ’50s were used as target practice by the military. Now they’re special animals. And they are special animals, but they’re really no special than all, all the animals are special.

02:01:12 - 02:01:27

If somebody says, “Well, the killer whales are the best. They’re so super special and they’re smart and their big brains and dolphins are smart and big brained, they’re special,” they’re not any more special than the otters oo the fish. All of them are special and we have to take care of them all.

02:01:28 - 02:01:43

As you look back over the years, what do you think SeaWorld has done right, and then what could they have done better in dealing with PETA, the HSUS regarding the orcas?

02:01:44 - 02:02:53

I think some of the things that we did very well in terms of the orcas, or killer whales, is simply exposing millions and millions of people to the beauty of these animals, the majesty of these animals and what they do in the ecosystems and how they act and what they do and the echolocation issues and the signature whistle work that we’ve done with them and discovering the signature whistles and things like that that wasn’t known from wild studies. So, again, I think we’ve filled in a lot of the pieces of the puzzle that have done a good job. And I think the public really likes these animals, because they’ve come to see them, millions of people. I think some of the things that we’ve done, in retrospect, you can always look back and play Monday morning quarterback, we should have been more vocal about “Blackfish,” the movie. We basically kind of thought, “Well, maybe it’s just a little documentary that’s gonna go to a little boutique theater and then go away.” Well, it didn’t and we didn’t say anything about it. We didn’t say it’s wrong. We were too quiet. And that hurt, I think, our reputation.

02:02:53 - 02:03:53

And I think it hurt the employees by not speaking out. And, again, I think when you deal with some of the activist groups and the humane groups, there should have been more of a dialogue with them as opposed to just a war and maybe we could have gotten somewhere. Maybe we could have found common ground. I don’t know, but it was just buck heads, buck heads, “No, yes, no, yes, yes, no, yes, no.” But I have found, when you look at some of those organizations, they don’t seem to care anyway. PETA doesn’t care. HSUS, they’re funding PETA. They were fined $15 million because they were in violation of the RICO Act, and fraud for paying an informant to lie in court the Feld Entertainment group and the care of elephants. HSUS was instrumental with Ocean’s Future in killing Keiko, ’cause they forced that animal to be free.

02:03:53 - 02:04:27

They killed it. So I don’t know if there is common ground. I’m sure there are a lot of good humane groups out there that wanna take care of animals. And I’m sure we could align with them. There’s also good NGOs and conservation we should align with even more. I never wanna say never, but some groups, some people are so set in their ways that they don’t care about animals in human care anymore. They seem to think that animals can live forever because there’s wild out there. And I don’t think they’ve ever been out there, because there’s not much wild left.

02:04:27 - 02:04:38

And the human population will take care of that in the future anyway. You talked about the work done in husbandry advancement with orcas.

02:04:38 - 02:04:41

Can you talk about the successful AI project and its importance?

02:04:41 - 02:06:09

The AI project was something that we are very proud of, number one. The artificial reproductive technology is used in many species and to bring it into this world of cetaceans and pinnipeds. It has been an eye opening for a lot of people. We have young, smart PhD folks involved, doctors and veterinarians, who have perfected it. And when you can, genetically and for diversification, to be able to move sperm from A to B, it’s quite phenomenal. And it’s done with a lot of different species, but we have actually gotten to the point where you can take a voluntary sample, freeze it, ship it, thaw it, and then ovulate a female 3,000 miles away. So it’s quite phenomenal when you think about intervention in the future. If you have the vaquita porpoise, for instance, in the Gulf of Mexico and you have them in somewhat managed care and you’re responsible and tasked for actually perpetuating the sustainable future of that species, the idea that you can move reproductive material from A to B to C or D to, again, diversify that particular group and strengthen that group for the future, that has huge ramifications for the future of that species.

02:06:11 - 02:06:24

In August 2006, you authored a paper for WAZA, the World Zoo Association of Aquariums, “SeaWorld’s Killer Whale Program.” It was review of five decades and a warning to captive managers.

02:06:24 - 02:06:28

What did you want them to take away from reading it?

02:06:30 - 02:06:32

From 2006 or ’16?

02:06:32 - 02:07:15

’16, I wanted them to understand that the company had made a decision. And I was probably not in fully supportive it because I didn’t think allowing these social animals to have the ability to breed when it’s managed is not practical. I don’t think it’s fair to the animals. I think it’s inhumane, actually. These are social animals and if they wanna breed, we don’t just let them breed indiscriminately, but we manage it just like other zoo populations. But I just didn’t think that was a wise decision. It was their decision. It was a business decision.

02:07:15 - 02:08:02

We talked about it and I was asked about it. But I just didn’t think I could support it in that form or fashion. So I kind of wanted people to realize that people are gonna make decisions that you should be more involved with somehow and try and avoid this kind of thing happening. I was basically told that if we told the public that we wouldn’t breed them anymore that the activists would leave us alone. Well, that didn’t happen. In fact, now there’s activity going around in Mexico and in France not to breed dolphins, in legislative bodies. So it’s just a new another technique for the animal extremists to find a way to basically shut down good zoos and aquariums. Get rid of their breeding, they don’t have any animals.

02:08:04 - 02:08:15

You have a membership in African Carnivore Research, Cheetah Conservation, International Rhino Foundation, among others.

02:08:15 - 02:08:18

Are you started to like terrestrial mammals?

02:08:18 - 02:08:24

I love terrestrial animals. I mean, some of my best trips have been to South Africa and Namibia and Botswana.

02:08:26 - 02:08:29

My first visit to South Africa, though, was in, when was it?

02:08:29 - 02:08:33

It was in, gosh, how long ago?

02:08:40 - 02:09:22

’68, I think it was, 1968, or ’78, 1978 to play rugby. But I got to go to some game safari places to see the game and the animals. And I just fell in love with the animals. And going back to Zimbabwe and sitting there watching elephants 20 feet away from you and leopards walking down the pathway and watching cheetahs and wild dogs hunt is just phenomenal to watch. And it’s scary to think that they’re losing their space, but I like terrestrial animals. I like them just as well as I like the pollinators. You know, I talk about the sixth extinction and how we’re losing animals. I mean, we’re losing the pollinators.

02:09:22 - 02:09:59

And I ask children, “Do what a pollinator is?” And they look at me like, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I said, “These butterflies are important. They’re pollinators.” I said, “About 60% of your food comes from pollinated food. It’s the pollinators. If we lose the pollinators, where are we gonna get the food?” And the answer is usually, “Well, at the supermarket.” That’s what urban life’s about. The is supermarket supplies everything. We don’t know there’s sustainable food chains coming in. So all all the animals are good. SeaWorld had a polar bear in 2014.

02:09:59 - 02:10:03

Would this type of marine mammal come back on exhibition?

02:10:04 - 02:10:08

Is it something that was in the plans?

02:10:08 - 02:10:12

I mean, you brought polar bears in or how would that occur?

02:10:12 - 02:11:02

I don’t know if that’s in their future plans right now. Most of the polar bears that were acquired by us were either born in zoos or orphaned. I think, again, for polar bears you need to build the proper habitat. And some of the ones that were built 20 years ago probably need to be changed because of their walking patterns and their hibernation patterns and things like that, and temperature. So I think there’s an evolution, again, about husbandry care, that there’s a thread through all of this. I think they should be because, right now, polar bears are losing their habitat, along with the walrus. And I think to, again, extend that message, if people don’t know that these animals are having a problem and don’t see them or smell them or watch them, then they’re not gonna relate to a problem that’s happening up in Baffin Island. They’re not gonna help.

02:11:02 - 02:11:56

So we need the animals to have that visual cue, that auditory cue that so that people can have a part in that decision making on changing their behavior that might help change the behavior of where the animals live. You had mentioned that, in March of 2016, the CEO of SeaWorld, Joel Manby, talked about the end of killer whale breeding program and that it had been debated within staff for a while. And people had given their input, but finally a decision was made. Correct, everybody chatted about it. Well, not everybody, it was a small group, but the veterinarians and myself and others talked about it and talked to the board. And they made a decision, and that’s when I became an emeritus curator.

02:11:57 - 02:12:10

Do you think that empowers HSUS and PETA and other organizations to make it difficult for zoo and aquariums to continue programs, not only in the marine mammals, but elephants or gorillas?

02:12:10 - 02:12:27

Absolutely it empowers them. If they can do it to SeaWorld, they can do it to anybody. And it’s one species at a time here. They’re just gonna go boom, boom, boom, boom, boom until most of the big mega-vertebrates are gone from zoos and aquariums.

02:12:27 - 02:12:31

And therefore, then, will people come to zoos and aquariums?

02:12:31 - 02:12:36

HSUS us and PETA don’t want zoos and aquariums, period. They’ve said that for years.

02:12:36 - 02:12:38

And why they change their spots?

02:12:42 - 02:12:49

In October of 2016 at the AZA and IMATA conference you made the statement, “It was a tough year.

02:12:49 - 02:12:52

Rough is good for you.” You meant what?

02:12:54 - 02:13:51

Well, their conference was rough simply because the keynote speaker was the CEO from the Human Society talking to people as he would to a minion audience. And he reminded me of a car salesman or an evangelist pontificating on how well they’ve cared for animals. You know, they make over $200 million a year from the public by doing infomercials holding a dog with a bad eye or a bad ear. But they don’t take care of any animals at any shelters. Again, I mentioned earlier that they were fined $15 million for fraud. They spend $100 million of that money a year to raise that money and pay lots of lawyers to intervene in legislative activity. They are anti-animal, period. And PETA is worse.

02:13:51 - 02:14:26

And they’re all connected. When you look at the spiderweb of humane groups that don’t want animals in our lives, there’s connections of they’ve either worked for each other or money’s going somewhere. They wanna deny all that, but it’s in there 1099s. I mean, if if they can be convicted of a $15 million fraud… Somebody found canceled checks when somebody signed them from HSUS. You held a very visible position in the marine mammal world with lots of international groups looking over your shoulder.

02:14:26 - 02:14:29

Was that an issue or just part of the job?

02:14:29 - 02:15:19

It was just part of the job. I think a lot of people, once they got to know us, me, and then other people, you know, we had people come here a couple years ago for the CPSG and the WAZA meeting. WAZA is the World Association of Zoos and Aquarium. Disney and SeaWorld of Florida co-hosted it. And, suddenly, a lot of people from all over the world got to come and see in person. They walk through the penguin where it’s cold and the penguins are right there jumping in the water. And they realized, “You did something really astounding here.” Again, my peers in the community are great people. They care very much for animals. However, sometimes they’re quick to circle the wagons and shoot each other instead of helping each other.

02:15:19 - 02:15:26

And I think, in the future, we don’t need to circle the wagons. We just need to work together better.

02:15:28 - 02:15:36

Why do you think that killer whales became, what qualities propelled them to become this cause celeb as opposed to dolphins?

02:15:37 - 02:16:37

Well, I think dolphins were pretty cause celeb also because, again, people love dolphins. And they have the perpetual smile. I think people came to love killer whales simply because, again, their majesty, their grace, their size, what they can do, the speed of how they can swim. One of the things I think we probably should have been more accurate at doing is basically also saying that life in the wild isn’t so cool. One particular group of killer whales wear their teeth down because they eat shark, elasmobranchs. And they have jaw teeth infections, but nobody wants to talk about that issue. And, again, one of the things that we need to talk about is lots of them have parasites in their bodies. And some of them die young too.

02:16:37 - 02:17:19

And some of them don’t make it to their first birthday. They don’t count a whale in the wild, the people that are doing any census work, until they see a calf born, or not see it born, but see it its mother, and then it happens to be with it’s mother a year later. So a large percentage die or a large percentage are never seen. So they do die in the wild also. So I think we should have been a little bit more blunt, in a way, of saying “Life in the wild is not so good. Life here is pretty good, but it’s not in the wild either.” And we’ve somewhat domesticated a lot of these animals in a way and taught them to do their behaviors. And behaviors aren’t unnatural. It’s the behaviors they do in the wild.

02:17:19 - 02:17:26

It’s always funny when you get, “Well, you make them do unnatural behaviors.” “Well, what do you mean unnatural?

02:17:26 - 02:17:29

What’s unnatural about a breech or a spyhop?

02:17:29 - 02:17:38

They do it in the wild. All we did is condition the behavior.” So I think they’re just majestic animals.

02:17:38 - 02:17:47

And people go, “Wow.” Did you have different challenges in various different positions as you moved through the organization (indistinct)?

02:17:48 - 02:18:23

Yeah, certainly I did. I mean, I think the challenges you have are personalities. And it’s more people related. You run into somebody that’s in the entertainment department that wants to do this. And you can say, “Well, wait, can we talk about it?” “Well, we don’t need to talk about it. It’s the entertainment’s decision.” And I go, “Well, no, wait a minute. It affects the way we’re doing the messaging here.” The messenger and the message is important. You can have a great message and a shitty messenger, excuse me, and a great messenger, and if you don’t have the right message, you’re not gonna get there.

02:18:23 - 02:18:32

So working with people is a challenge. And those are probably the biggest things. I probably got great hair from working with people more than the animals.

02:18:32 - 02:18:35

I was gonna say, was there any challenges working with such a large collection?

02:18:35 - 02:19:34

No, no, working with such a large collection was actually, I think, a blessing because of the ability to have sustainable populations and the ability to have the flexibility and learn more. I think it’s exciting when you can look at thousands of penguins, you can walk into a penguin encounter and see 400 penguins here in Florida, for instance, and be able to share some of those particular animals on breeding loans to other zoos and aquariums. I’ve created a huge web of loans to people out there. Most of the penguins, the cold weather penguins in North America today, came from SeaWorld. So they’re helping keeping the genetic lines diverse too. So I think, in a way, it was fun to work with the people. I miss it, but that’s not stopping me from doing conservation and taking care of animals.

02:19:35 - 02:19:45

Have you seen, again, the evolution of training and enrichment and activities aside from the animal care protocols at SeaWorld?

02:19:46 - 02:20:21

Absolutely, in all parts of the zoos and aquariums around the world are learning from each other. And it’s increasing daily. We’ve got a lot of work to do in some parts of the world though. Some of the quality of facilities aren’t very good and the quality of care isn’t very good. And I think we need to find ways to help. And not just be critical, but go in and with critical help, not just criticize them and stand back and point. You talked about the Baja Reef groundbreaking and so forth a while back.

02:20:23 - 02:20:29

What exhibits, if any, were you responsible for kind of shepherding and championing?

02:20:29 - 02:20:35

And were they groundbreaking or were they expansions on something you had seen worldwide?

02:20:35 - 02:21:29

Well, I think some of the things that we’ve done in my tenure, I think the Wild Arctics were pretty cool. I think Discovery Cove was awesome, where you can swim in a reef and swim with dolphins. And I think the evolution of Antarctica from the Penguin Encounters to what we have here in Orlando where you are physically, basically in the environment with them. It’s fun to watch the public come in there, ’cause they get cold and wanna leave. And you think, “Well, this is it. This is the real thing.” And you can smell them, you can hear them. I think that’s groundbreaking in a way because I think that’s truly the epitome of as real we can possibly get. ‘Cause there can’t be a million people going to Antarctica every year, but there can be a million people or 4 million people coming to SeaWorld to see it.

02:21:29 - 02:22:44

And so we’re sharing the knowledge with millions of people because of these types of exhibits. And I think some of the plans that we had for the future of some of the cetaceans pools are gonna get more involved. And we just build a beautiful pool in San Antonio that has a lot of enrichment in it. And we’re talking lots about it and I hope they continue to do it in terms of putting multi-species together, fish and kelp with whales and dolphins and things of that nature, because the water systems are becoming more sophisticated, the way we take care of the water systems and the animals. I just think there’s an unlimited future on how you can properly care for animals and exhibit animals to make the public feel even better. Because sometimes it’s just an impression issue of, “I can watch this elephant and I can see its whole yard and can I see it’s rocking.” Well, maybe that elephant space should be five times as large and a place to travel to and enrichment areas will change every day so the elephant’s path from its food to its water is different. Then the public will see the animal in the light of, “This is how they live in the wild. This is what they’ve gotta do every a day.

02:22:44 - 02:23:17

They gotta go find food and water.” And they do use the same paths every day, so it does put a little bit more real into what’s real. And it gives, again, back to my mantra, I want the public to change their behavior a little bit more and get involved somehow with these different organizations, the Cheetah Conservation Fund and the International Rhino Foundation, ’cause, if they did and maybe gave a little money or cooperated and helped volunteer a little bit, maybe we would start saving species more.

02:23:19 - 02:23:26

Can you talk about what a drive fishery is and why SeaWorld and the alliance are opposed to it?

02:23:26 - 02:24:47

A drive fishery is a technique that goes back 100 years in Japan where fishermen in the southern islands would come upon schools of dolphins and they would actually put pipes in the water off the sides of their ship and form a wall and make noise and drive them, meaning move them in a group, into shallower water where they could put nets around them. And then the Japanese would kill them and eat them for food. Then, what happened in the late ’70s or early ’80s, aquariums talked to the fisherman’s co-ops and said, “Well, listen, rather than you kill the dolphin, can I just buy it and take it away?” And that fisherman co-op didn’t care. They’re either gonna kill it and get their money or get their money and let it go somewhere else. But the reality is you couldn’t divorce yourself from the fact that they’re killing the animals. And it’s a horrific scene. And you can’t wash your hands of, you can’t be involved in that because what people started accusing SeaWorld and members of the alliance of doing is perpetuating the drive fishery by buying some of those animals. And that’s not the case at all.

02:24:47 - 02:25:11

They did it last year. They did it the year before. They did it 100 years ago, and they’re gonna do it when no aquarium in China is buying the dolphins, which they’re still doing today. But, basically, what we had to do was really separate ourselves. The drive fishery is wrong if we’re gonna be implicated one of being guilty of perpetuating it. We’re not part of it, we’re not gonna be part of it.

02:25:11 - 02:25:18

And if the Japanese people wanna do that because that’s their choice of food sources, who are we to criticize them?

02:25:18 - 02:25:34

We kill cows to eat them. Hopefully we do in it a humane manner. We kill chickens in a humane manner, but food is humanely disposed of for our pleasure. You talked about education.

02:25:34 - 02:25:45

How does SeaWorld measure the impact of its education programs, if it does, I presume it does, on the public’s perception of the importance of these marines mammals?

02:25:45 - 02:25:50

Is the education department and animal management, again, working together?

02:25:50 - 02:25:52

And do you get feedback?

02:25:52 - 02:27:00

They do work together, and we try and make sure that the message, again, and the messenger, the messages that we give to the public is spot on and truthful and factual. Years and years and years ago, you would listen to somebody talk about, “Well, this dolphin, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, da, they lived to be 50, 80 100 years old,” and they were going off script and they weren’t following what’s published and what’s scientific. And they were also becoming what’s so rote and so dry, the public goes, “Wait a minute, I didn’t come here to be bludgeoned with educational materials. I came here with my family to enjoy ourselves, but I wanna learn about them. But it’s gotta be fun. I wanna learn.” And I think the challenge then becomes, say a family of four goes home that day, every one of them has learned something different about animals because they took on a different message. And then we can measure that by exit interviews. We’re trying to measure that by impact in schools. We’re trying to measure that with our youth advisory council that we have.

02:27:02 - 02:27:32

And I keep saying we have, but we developed. And I think we need that feedback because education today is changing in the school systems, obviously, too. And with social media and the way people seem to use the tools of social media, children or younger people don’t seem to go outdoors anymore. And we need them to go outdoors. We need them to to take care of nature. We need them to respect nature and we need them to have a human bond with an animal bond.

02:27:33 - 02:27:36

So we have to keep finding out, what is the message?

02:27:36 - 02:27:39

We need to to keep taking polls.

02:27:39 - 02:27:41

We need to find out, are we doing the right thing?

02:27:42 - 02:28:23

And it’s very challenging sometimes, because people say in zoos and aquariums that we educate and we do conservation, but then somebody says, “Well, how much money do you spend at it?” “Well, we probably spend 3% for conservation.” “Well, that’s not enough.” So 3% of what? It’s always a nebulous number. How much do you want and how much can you afford and still take care of the animals and do the rescue/rehab. Somebody’s gonna have to take of care of all of this too and pay good employees. So it does take money to run zoos and aquariums, but they also raise public awareness and do spend money on zoo, aquarium, excuse me, on education and conservation. People are just always critical of it. They’re never happy.

02:28:23 - 02:28:35

You said it takes money, and what’s it take financially to run such a diverse collection and keep it healthy and moving forward at SeaWorld?

02:28:35 - 02:29:16

I don’t really recall, to be honest with you, what the total budget was for animal departments. It’s lots, tens of millions, for sure. It costs a lot of money, it does. It costs a lot of money to rescue thousands of birds every year that we do. But, I mean, it’s just part of what we do, and it’s part of what we probably should tell the guests more of when they come in. “You, by coming here today, have made the difference because part of your admission is going to this, this, these 20, 30,” whatever it is. Or maybe it’s only three things, something simple that they can take home and be proud of. The public is making a difference.

02:29:19 - 02:29:26

Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, how did it shape SeaWorld acquiring animals, or for that matter, any aquarium?

02:29:27 - 02:30:20

The Marine Mammal Protection Act was put into effect in 1972 because of the bycatch that the tuna fishermen were having on dolphin populations by encircling them with purse seines. And as they brought the tuna to the surface, a lot of the dolphin were drowning in the nets. There wasn’t a methodology or a technique similar to the TED netting processes that turtles now escape the shrimp boaters. So the Marine Mammal Protection Act was put into effect that you could not kill a marine mammal in the wild. But they’ve had some exceptions. If you were gonna do filming, you had to get a permit. If you wanted to take animals for public display, you had to then determine the size of the population of that species and determine with the scientists at National Marine Fishery Service what’s a sustainable removal. And then you’d get a federal permit to do that.

02:30:20 - 02:31:05

So it just became a little bit more, it became a lot more regulated, but it was the right thing to do. I wish they would do that with other types of species of fish and things like that. They just seem to have quotas, but I don’t know if anybody really knows the end product of those quotas sometimes. It’s a, by golly, guess. You know, there’s this much tuna out there, there’s this much salmon, so you can this much. But it’s getting better and more refined with bright, young PhDs out there and things like that. But the Marine Mammal Protection Act itself, and I believe the US is probably the only country that has a formal federal law like that, it has really done a good job of protecting populations. In 2016, you retired.

02:31:05 - 02:31:10

What advice do you give or would you give the person who stepped into your former position?

02:31:10 - 02:31:58

Did you leave a book with a note that said “Good luck?” I said good luck many times too. In fact I just had dinner with my person, what do you call it, not the survivor, the successor. (laughs) He may, in a way, think he’s surviving. But we still talk all the time. And my advice to him was be yourself, be who you. Don’t ever put yourself in a situation where you doubt your intentions. I mean, if you feel strongly about something, do it. And if you feel strongly about something, say it. And, of course, his temperament is different than mine, much different.

02:31:58 - 02:32:24

He’s a lot nicer person. And he sometimes he has trouble saying no. And he knows that. But the advice is take care of the people who take care of the animals, and ask, “Why are you doing that?” Now, in an internal in March 2015, you said, “SeaWorld has evolved.

02:32:24 - 02:32:30

It’s different from 50 years ago.” How will it be different 50 years from now?

02:32:31 - 02:32:31

What’s your vision?

02:32:31 - 02:33:45

Boy, 50 years from now, I’m hoping my vision would be that it’s the most beautiful marine park that people could come to and see animals in that type of pristine habitat that I was describing with the penguins where you feel the temperature, you hear them, you see them, you smell them, you respect them, you understand what their life is like. And, again, I think, with all the species, I mean, everything has to keep evolving. I think an old exhibit has to be torn up and a new one has to be built. I think there’s other species that we should be reaching out for and taking care of. I think leopard seals and some of the harp seals and ring seals and ribbon… Ribbon seals are beautiful. But, again, I don’t think the public understands the diversity of these types of animals, nor do we appreciate them enough that we’re gonna be able to save them. So I think the vision for the future is, not only are there places like SeaWorld, but there’s also habitat protection areas, like the Gulf of Mexico where the vaquita and the totoaba can survive together.

02:33:45 - 02:34:09

But it has to be managed. It has to be managed like an open zoo or an open aquarium, with knowledgeable people that know how to do it. And not some sort of emotional, “Animals are free,” person who doesn’t understand the biology of the animal or the behavior of the animal. It has to be done by people who truly do care and will make a difference in the future.

02:34:10 - 02:34:13

How did you view the media, TV and print?

02:34:13 - 02:34:17

Were they the enemy or just people you had to cultivate?

02:34:19 - 02:35:15

You know, I think I’m not a fan of the news, or the media because they don’t seem to wanna do their homework and look up some of the other issues, some of the other sides of a discussion, some on side of a debate. They just sort of take things at face value and just print it. And the most irritating thing is when they’ll say, “Well, I got this from an expert at Animal Welfare Institute,” or something like that. And you know this person’s not an expert, hasn’t done anything. So they just don’t seem to wanna look at both sides or report both sides and just say, “So-and-so said this and so-and-so said this. And this is what we found. This is what we didn’t find, so you make up your mind.” But they just sort of, “I got a story. Here’s the story.” And they don’t care. If it makes the front page, it’s even better for them.

02:35:17 - 02:35:23

Is there any advice in the kind of relationship you think zoos, aquariums, or marine parks should have with the media?

02:35:23 - 02:35:47

I think they should do a really strong push to do op-eds and meet with the editors and say, “This is who we are. Why don’t you come and visit. Why don’t you take a walk around.” You know, you gotta make your friendships somewhere. And if you don’t do it right with the people that are in your town, you’re not doing yourself a favor, because they’ll run you out of town in a heartbeat if they want to.

02:35:50 - 02:36:02

On the conservation side, you talked about the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, did you find that hard to sell the idea?

02:36:04 - 02:37:09

Or you had indicated that you talked about it a little, but was it a hard sell or what’s- Well it was a hard sell to the company, ’cause the company was a private company. Well, that’s not true, necessarily. Anheuser-Busch is a public company, but I think the wording that we used when we sat down with the man was, “We wanna create a not for profit.” And, of course, he said, “Well, wait a minute. Our our company is here to make a profit for the shareholders. It’s the wrong word.” He was a little bit more adamant about that, but we said, “No, no, no, this is how this works. It works in conjunction with the philosophy of Busch Entertainment that’s a profit-making subsidiary, but we wanna be able to take money in from like Coca-Cola, ’cause Coca-Cola services the park and they could give $250,000 to the conservation fund and we can earmark it to water replenishment or we can do whatever we wanna do with it, either earmark or not.” So once we started to describe how the money would be used, he understood that and it worked out fine.

02:37:10 - 02:37:32

But I think a lot of people don’t realize, and I don’t know the statistics exactly, but when you give money to certain NGOs, a large percentage of it is because they have a beautiful office in Washington DC and a lot of people working for them, meaning, now, is that part of what they need and is that part of their image?

02:37:32 - 02:37:37

Or is that necessarily the role that they wanna play?

02:37:38 - 02:37:43

Meaning does 20% go to conservation and 80% goes to something else?

02:37:43 - 02:37:47

You know, where’s the happy medium, I guess?

02:37:47 - 02:39:07

Because I think a lot of people will say, “Well, I’m gonna save the Tennis Shoe Club, so I’m gonna send money there because it sounds right.” Well, 90% of it goes to somebody’s salary and somebody’s car and 10% of it is going to save something. So I don’t think people investigate foundations or funds very often. They just kind of go with a gut response, or they go with somebody else’s recommendation. “Oh, give to them, they’re good,” without checking to find know where the money goes and how it works. And we found, with the fund, if we gave money to World Wildlife Fund, for instance, for their program on sustainable fishing technology, we had trouble getting acknowledged for it. They would do a great job of talking about their program, but we were sort of over here. They didn’t really spend a lot of energy saying, “Oh, and by the way we got some money from SeaWorld and Busch Gardens to do this.” So we’ve found, in the long run, it’s almost better to do it directly with small entities and small groups that wanna work on the specific projects and give money directly to them in exchange for a progress report and an accounting of how they spent the money.

02:39:08 - 02:39:15

Well, speaking of projects, what are, in your opinion, the top marine mammal conservation projects that need to be done?

02:39:17 - 02:39:23

Well, I think I mentioned already the vaquita process. I think it’s too late. I think the intervention is too late.

02:39:24 - 02:40:00

They don’t even know if there’s 30 or 50 animals left, but what I don’t wanna have happen is that, if the zoo and aquarium field has mobilized, they’ve raised money, they got the Mexican and the American, everyone’s agreeing to do it, they’re taking the Navy dolphins down into the Sea of Cortez to actually help find some of these animals, so it’s a full-on project, but my concern would be, if it doesn’t work or they kill a couple of them when they’re collecting them, the extremists are gonna say, “See?

02:40:00 - 02:40:53

The zoo and aquarium people can’t do this. We let them in the door and they screwed it up.” But I think that’s an important project. I think some of the Caribbean islands ought to start coalescing now. They’ve just been ruined by hurricanes, but they should coalesce a little bit about the management of their reefs and their corals and their fishes because I think if they got together as a conglomerate and had similar rules and similar type oversight, I think they do a better job than independently. And I think the third thing that probably needs the most attention in the marine environment is in Southeast Asia. It’s just chaos. Everybody does what they want, so the animals are the ones that end up in never-never land.

02:40:54 - 02:41:00

Can you name a couple of projects that have been funded by the conservation fund that you’re most proud of?

02:41:00 - 02:41:02

And how do they make a difference?

02:41:03 - 02:42:11

Well, I’m most proud of the beginning of this Rising Tide project, that one we talked about earlier, raising marine ornamental fish. But I think some of the ones, I’m trying to think of the actual name of it, it’s in Ethiopia and it has to do with sustainable, actually creating charcoal from dung instead of the women going into the national parks and stealing wood. For years, they would just go to the national park and take wood out every day for their stoves. And this particular project, and the name is escaping me, they created this whole project by making these new type of stoves, new cooking apparatuses, and then creating this market with the cattle dung to create briquettes that would actually be the fuel source. And I thought that was really sort of a on-the-ground, practical approach to something very simple and very meaningful to everybody. Everybody had good food and they didn’t have to go to chop down all those trees, and I think that worked out pretty well.

02:42:12 - 02:42:17

What did the conservation fund fund, the development of the stoves?

02:42:17 - 02:43:10

The development of the stoves and the development of actually how they would start manufacturing the dung to briquettes. And it was done by a young couple out of Denver, Colorado, of all places. And I guess the third one, if I’m gonna keep it at that, is the work we’ve done with SANCCOB down in South Africa with the South African penguin. I think that work is fabulous, and especially when we go back to the oil spill a few years back where we actually ended up sending not only money, we sent some of our experienced staff from our penguin area to rehab thousands of penguins. So that, to me, is one of those, again, you’re on the ground doing something that works instead of hoping it works or you’re flying back and forth advising. It’s practical and it makes sense.

02:43:12 - 02:43:20

Can you talk about your role in the CPSG Strategies Committee with the Conservation Planning Specialist Group?

02:43:20 - 02:44:18

My role is on the steering committee, and I help raise money for that group. I’m also on the advisory board where we have quarterly calls to talk of about the next steps. Now, CPSG has just changed their acronym. It used to be CBSG. And the reason it’s CP now, it’s conservation planning, is the head of the IUCN, Jon Paul Rodriguez, has asked CBSG to change their mode, not methodology. Because they’re one of the more productive commissions, species survival commissions, they’re actually going to create a program to help the other species survival commissions be more effective, like the elephant, the gorilla, and others, because they’re good, but, over the years, they just sort of go in circles a little bit. And they don’t wanna work with zoos and aquariums or managed care animals. They just wanna work on animals in the wild.

02:44:18 - 02:44:38

But CPSG now is going to sort of facilitate their processes to try and get people connected and then get home-range countries to buy into the projects and go there and get them done quicker instead of this long, drawn-out, 40-year idea that conservation will finally work in Namibia or somewhere else.

02:44:40 - 02:44:52

What are the significances of J.K. O’Brien and T.R. Robeck’s paper, “The Value of Ex Situ Cetacean Populations in Understanding Reproductive Physiology”?

02:44:53 - 02:45:41

Well, Dr. Justine O’Brien and Todd Robeck are pioneers in artificial reproductive technology. And the work they’ve done, again, and I may be repeating myself, with citations and pinnipeds is the idea that you can move genetic materials. And I think this is very important for the whole idea of intervention and managing wild populations. Especially when you have corridors that are extinguished and the animals aren’t moving from place to place, I think moving the genetic materials around makes all the difference in the world. And Paul Bartels did a lot of that work in South Africa with rhinos. I just think it’s one of the technologies we should use, along with every other tool.

02:45:43 - 02:45:49

When you help the conservation fund, how do you generate funding for the conservation fund now?

02:45:49 - 02:46:38

It comes from a lot of different sources. It comes from members of the public that come through the gates of our parks. It comes from companies like Coca-Cola. And it comes from some of the merchandise opportunities here in the park. If you buy like some of these cups here that we just saw outside where you can build a cup and it’s made from a recyclable cup and then you can have Coke products all day long for a certain price, well, a certain amount of that money, a buck or something or 50 cent, goes to the conservation fund. So we have merchandise, we have employees can match by just donating like they could with the Red Cross or something else. We have big companies, we have individuals. We had a lady in San Diego give us $100,000 last year from her estate, and we don’t even know who she is.

02:46:38 - 02:46:50

So somebody along the line said something, either to her or a member of the family, said, “You ought give some money to the conservation from from SeaWorld.” So it really comes from all over the place.

02:46:50 - 02:46:53

And how do you decide who receives funding?

02:46:55 - 02:47:36

We get about 400 proposals a year. We do two funding cycles. We split it a half year, a half year. And, based upon the subject matter or the discipline, if it’s a bird project or a salt water project or a freshwater or a carnivore, we route it through certain curators and biologists at the parks. And they rate it and score it on a weighted process. Then, they give us the scores and then we put them all down together. And then there’s a committee of six people that then reads through them all and restructures it If we want to do that. And then, we just go down and pick.

02:47:36 - 02:47:41

So the top 20, 30 projects, once you get to like $1.1 million, we’re done.

02:47:43 - 02:47:46

But you don’t have to take the top?

02:47:46 - 02:48:29

If you see something that’s, “Well, wait a minute, this is important,” you could- We can do the that. Or if we know the group. And we have found over the years that certain groups do great work, but the people writing their proposals change so the quality of the proposal isn’t quite the same and we’re wondering, “Well, why? What happened?” So we call them and say, “You know, this is a good proposal, but you’re lacking some information here.” And they basically say, “Well, we had a change in personnel, but we’re the same people and we’re gonna do the same work.” So we value the idea of sticking with someone for five or 10 years, getting something done rather than jumping around from different group to different group all the time.

02:48:33 - 02:48:38

How, specifically, is SeaWorld helping cetaceans in the wild?

02:48:39 - 02:49:26

Specifically, one of the works we’re doing, well, we’re involved with the vaquita project right off the bat. We have people in Mexico with the team down there that are experts on handling and veterinary care. We’re doing work up in the Pacific Northwest cataloging most of the deaths of a lot of the killer whales up there simply to finding out what are the causative agents and what’s going on, because that was never done by the Canadian government. We’re working with people on beluga whale populations up in Bristol Bay. So we’re trying to find the right opportunities with the right groups and the right government to help go with experts or money. You’ve said that conservation has to be rooted in every resident, every citizen in the country.

02:49:26 - 02:49:27

What do you mean by that?

02:49:28 - 02:50:12

Well, I mean by that is simply we we’re losing touch with how beautiful this world could be. I mean, I see all the nonsense on the news with what people do to people. It’s just horrible, but I just can’t believe that somebody wants to abuse a dog or throw trash into the ocean or ruin their environment. The animals, to me, are, again, defenseless. And we’re the only life form, and I’m gonna repeat myself, that it can make a difference. And we either help them or we don’t help them. ‘Cause the animals in this world today, they can’t change things. They can’t change climate change.

02:50:12 - 02:50:33

They can’t change their environment. They can’t change poaching. It’s us, so I don’t see why people wouldn’t wanna take a higher ground and a moral obligation to caring for animals, and then, in the same token, care for each other. It’d be nice if we did that. Now we come to the section of your opinion.

02:50:34 - 02:50:40

What made you a good animal manager in all the positions here?

02:50:41 - 02:51:17

I think what made me good at what I’m doing, or did, I’m still doing it, is I listen well. God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason, so you can listen more than you can talk. And I know I may not sound like that in this interview, but when you listen more, you hear what people want and what they need. And when you use your eyes and watch the animals, I think you can talk to the people that work with the animals and get more done. So I think I’m a good listener and I think I’m a good observer.

02:51:21 - 02:51:29

What set of skills would you think a top animal director needs today, as compared to when you started?

02:51:31 - 02:52:16

Today, (laughs) well, the thing I would probably wish I had a lot more of is the skills I could use with the computer, the computer age. You know, having a support staff all the time, I hardly had to do anything, it was great. Now that I’m on my own, it’s like I don’t even know how to use my pictures on my cell phone. So I think technology, people should be really hep to technology today. Because with Instagram and Facebook and all the other tools out there, those can be your enemy or they can be your help. So you I think you need to know about technology. I think you have to have a lot of patience and I think you have to ask that question that I’ve always asked, is why.

02:52:16 - 02:52:18

“Why are you doing this?

02:52:18 - 02:52:23

Or what’s the purpose?” And even if it’s silly, it’s okay. You can laugh.

02:52:25 - 02:52:35

As a top manager of a major organization, you’re dealing with the international marine mammal world, how did it change you?

02:52:35 - 02:52:37

What contributions do you think you made?

02:52:39 - 02:53:42

I think it changed me because it gave me the opportunity to see good and bad things around the world, what’s happening with animals, and to be able to identify that’s a good thing and that’s the bad thing. And I’ve met some wonderful people that are doing good things. I think what’s disappointing to me, though, is people don’t gather all the information to make a right decision and they just jump to the wrong decision. And it’s one of those analogies I’ll make, and I don’t know if it’s silly, it’s not silly to me, but after I finished playing my first game of rugby, I was 18 years old, I think, and our coach at St. Mary’s College was a former New Zealand All Black. And he was there teaching history, but he was also teaching rugby. And I finished the game. It’s an 80-minute game and you have a five-minute halftime. And I was beat up, contusions and bruises and bloodied.

02:53:42 - 02:55:04

And we lost, to boot. And I walked up to him afterwards, and I go, Pat, what’s the secret to winning?” And he just looked at me and he says, “There’s four things.” And I go, “Four things. Okay, good.” And he goes, “First of all, you gotta have a fire in your heart. And you have to have ice in your brains. And that gets you through the game without making a lot of mistakes and doing the right thing.” And then he started to turn around, and I go, “Pat, you said four things.” And he goes, “Oh yeah, you gotta be smart and fast.” And I said, “Okay, got it, got it.” (chuckles) And when you think about that, are we approaching our world today with, I think a lot of us have a fire about what we want, the passion, but some of us get it muddled up here and don’t have the clear thinking and purpose of what we’re going to do, or we argue with people or we don’t do the right thing. But, God almighty, we talk and we stall. We just don’t act fast anymore and we don’t think fast anymore. We just sort of, “Well, we can fix this,” but 10 years later, we’re in worse shape than we are today in a lot of issues. So if everyone could take those words and honestly use them, I guess in their own MO, we would get things done.

02:55:06 - 02:55:17

What would you say a smaller or medium-sized marine mammal facility today can they do to be involved in the wildlife conservation nationally or internationally?

02:55:18 - 02:56:12

I think, nationally to begin with, a lot of them could certainly be involved with holding one gender of certain species. For instance, then we go back to that walrus explanation, if one small aquarium could take care of two or three males for 10 months out of the year and then not worry about giving them up for two or three months out of the year to go breed a bunch of females that weren’t around males, that would make them a valuable partner on both sides. Not only are they contributing to the sustainability of that species, but they’re doing the right thing for the animal, and both their guests and the guests at the other place. Internationally, I think it comes down to how well can we connect people in parts of the world who in reality really don’t know how they can do anything in conservation.

02:56:12 - 02:56:21

How can we get $20 from a friend that comes to our small aquarium and say, “This is gonna go to help protect polar bear cubs”?

02:56:21 - 02:56:25

How do we connect the dots, again, to somebody small to somebody big?

02:56:29 - 02:56:30

You wanna let them in?

02:56:31 - 02:56:40

(woman speaks faintly) What should be the focus of the marine mammal collections in North America?

02:56:41 - 02:57:52

I think the focus really should be on the genetic stability of it and the evolving husbandry care. I hope people aren’t thinking they know everything and they should continue to work it. I think they should also make sure they understand that they’re getting picked on by the animal activists and the extremists, but it’s just the species they’re picking on. And I would hope that the flip side, the other zoos and aquariums that don’t have those species, would try and stand up together and help because, eventually, that fight’s gonna come to their door. We don’t seem to be working well together as a community. As I said, I think all animals are special, whether they’re a dolphin or an elephant or a his hissing cockroach. Zoos and aquarium and marine mammal parks in too many cases today are afraid to confront the animal welfare rights groups that are anti-zoo and aquarium. Sadly, we even have people in top positions in our field who seem in line with what those non-biologists have to say.

02:57:52 - 02:57:56

Can you give us your thoughts on how best to deal with these groups?

02:57:56 - 02:58:40

I think you have to take them head on with a knowledgeable approach, with the truth, with science, make the science understandable, common sense, meaning you can’t muddle around in deep, dark science about, “This is published down here.” The public needs to hear it. “This is the simple explanation. They’re wrong. This is what’s right.” That gives is the public the opportunity to form a better opinion of what’s happening. By running and hiding from it, all you’re doing is, I think, doing a little bit of what happened with the “Blackfish,” is when you run from it or don’t speak to it, you could be guilty by non-admission.

02:58:42 - 02:58:49

What do you think about HSUS and the budding relationship with the zoo and aquarium community?

02:58:49 - 02:59:33

I think it’s a disastrous idea. I think, in the long run, HSUS doesn’t want zoos and aquariums. They don’t want animals in people’s lives. They’ve said that repeatedly. Unless the boss of that organization is gonna have to radically change, which I don’t think that’s where the fundraising comes from, I don’t think anything will come good of it. I think some of the smaller zoos are gonna get picked off, especially if they, quote-unquote, don’t belong to something. And there’s gonna be concentrated campaigns on trying to destroy those particular entities.

02:59:38 - 02:59:45

So what would be your advice to zoos and aquariums in preparing to deal with these animal rights liberation groups?

02:59:45 - 03:00:43

I think they have to have a good message, a strong messenger. They have to be consistent, and they have to raise the standards of poorer zoos, roadside zoos where we just seem to be ignoring them saying, “Well, they’re not accredited. We don’t want any part of them. They’re bad.” Well, they’re there. In Europe alone right now, there’s like 420 accredited EAZA zoos and aquariums. There’s another 800 animal menageries or zoos that are not EU Directive Zoo Licensed, 800. And there’s a lot here in the United States and North America. I think, by ignoring that, we’re being lumped into the same barrel and painted with the same brush. Even if you’re a big mighty, mighty zoo, you know, if somebody goes and sees something bad happening, I think it affects everybody.

03:00:43 - 03:00:45

The family should work together.

03:00:49 - 03:00:59

Why do you think aquariums, more specifically, marine mammal facilities, always seem to be a bit on the outside with the general zoo community?

03:01:00 - 03:01:34

I think simply because of the attacks that we’re getting. As one friend of mine said to me, “I’m in the Midwest. I don’t have marine mammals. I don have a problem. I don’t want one. I’m gonna just play ostrich for a while.” That’s my comment. “If I hide long enough, nobody will ever see me.” It’s like whistling when you go by the graveyard.

03:01:36 - 03:01:44

But what do you think is then the future for maintaining marine mammals, specifically dolphins and killer whales in captivity?

03:01:44 - 03:01:59

I think, longterm, they’re gonna be phased out. I think legislation is going to phase them out simply because social media and the activists are gonna win. And many people now are questioning the keeping citations in captivity.

03:02:00 - 03:02:05

Why do you think that feeling seems to have increased over the past few years?

03:02:05 - 03:02:28

Because of the disinformation that’s out there. People aren’t hearing parts of the story. And they don’t wanna know the complete truth so they just form their opinions and move on. And, unfortunately, once zoos and the aquariums give up marine mammal, the next species that’s in line is the elephants and primates and the carnivores. And it’s just a slippery slope.

03:02:31 - 03:02:39

Do you think the benefits of maintaining these marine mammals, which you’ve talked about, has just not been conveyed well enough?

03:02:39 - 03:03:42

I think that could be part of it. As we were talking earlier, I think we did ourselves a little bit of a disservice early on by saying how intelligent these animals are without really explaining what they use that larger brain for. They use it for acoustics. They use it for transmitting information that’s coming back to them via sonar. We could have done a better job of educating why the animals are made up like they’re made up. And I think they wouldn’t then have that image that Flipper is this smiling little creature that always goes (imitates dolphin squeaking), that’s a happy little dolphin. I think we should have been more, not brutal, but blunt, more blunt about them and what they serve and what kind of animal they are. It’s interesting, I showed a video recently, it was taken off of Lanzarote, one of the Canary Islands, where a woman was bathing She had swam out past a, there’s not much of a surf line there.

03:03:42 - 03:04:11

And a big male Tursiops came up to her. And she started to pet it. And then she tried to start to swim to shore. Well, it killed her. Of course, nobody saw that in the news. You know, that dolphin killed her. It kept hitting her and hitting her and hitting her until she drowned or lost consciousness. And I have seen dolphins in the wild beat the crap out of each other.

03:04:11 - 03:04:48

And so they’re not necessarily the happy, intelligent animal that everybody seems to think because they do have their own social activities and their own pecking orders. And things in their particular culture happens that a lot of people aren’t aware of. So I think we did a disservice by putting them on the wrong pedestal. You’d mentioned that curators, that you don’t sit by your computer. A constant complaint, or at least a complaint from zoo and aquarium directors is there are too few good curators in the community today.

03:04:48 - 03:04:52

Is there a problem, and how should curators be trained today?

03:04:52 - 03:04:54

And what is expected of them?

03:04:55 - 03:06:10

I think part of the way curators should be trained today is they should have more exposure to some of their peers at other institutions because I think what happens a lot of times is we get brought up within a system, an institutional system, and we think that’s the only model. And there’s not enough exposure to experience to let them sort of question what they’re doing. And I don’t think the tribal knowledge is documented well enough and passed around well enough, even though there’s husbandry manuals and this stud book. You know, the shark elasmobranch thing is this thick. It’s amazing that somebody took the time to put that all together. And reading it would be important if you like sharks, but unless you stand with somebody or dive with somebody and watch sharks and then talk about it, you’re not gonna get that picture that you really need to be a very good shark person. I just thought about something as you were talking, when you say exposure, you’ve spent your entire career, or at least a large portion of your career, at one institution.

03:06:11 - 03:06:21

Do you think your education could have been better if you had been working at more than this one institution?

03:06:21 - 03:06:25

Or does it really make a difference, it depends on the person?

03:06:27 - 03:07:10

Well, I think it depends upon the person. I think a lot of people jump around in our community from place to place to place thinking it’s another promotional step. And they’re not really gaining the knowledge they need at each step. I think I was lucky, in a way, to be sort of stuck with one company. And then was bought by many companies, but then it was absorbed by another. And so when you talk about 44, 44 1/2 years, I would have never had the opportunity to do all the things I’ve done if I hadn’t have been with this company, both in terms of exposure, to travel, to seeing other animals in other parts of the world, and understanding the issues of better husbandry and better care.

03:07:12 - 03:07:20

What changes have you seen during your years in the marine mammal field regarding visitor attitudes at the national level?

03:07:22 - 03:08:17

Well, the national level today is exposed to, again, information that’s not always truthful. So I’m seeing the 40 years ago or 30 years ago when people came to visit and they went away feeling very good about what they saw and how you took care of your animals. Now, some of them don’t. So I think, again, with our culture of wanting sort of always be reinforced with issues, be it winning a game or what can be on their next text or what’s gonna be on their snapshot, or snapshot or whatever it’s called, snap whatever, they look for that type of recognition or that type of achievement. And I don’t think it really borders in getting involved in a deep manner, to really understand. It’s superficial.

03:08:20 - 03:08:26

In your career, what issues caused you the most concern, and how do you see the future regarding those same concerns?

03:08:30 - 03:09:18

I think the disinterest sometimes with people in the way they treat an animal. When you have a little Asian otter who’s highly trained, a very good little otter, kind of, as they occasionally do, start screeching and running after you ’cause they’re not happy with you and trying to bite with their little teeth, but to have somebody turn around and kick it in the head, that’s discouraging. I mean, it’s crazy. It doesn’t make sense. And then, of course, you watch kids sometimes and they’re standing on the pier fishing or goofing around and dolphins come up near the pier and they start throwing bottles at them.

03:09:18 - 03:09:20

And you’re thinking, “Well, what’s the purpose of this?

03:09:20 - 03:10:18

Where do they get the idea that that’s okay to do?” So that’s disturbing to me and I don’t understand it. Do we know where they get that idea, or is it- Well, obviously, it’s monkey see, monkey do. They’ve seen somebody else do it or they’ve watched it on television or they realize, “I don’t wanna get bit,” or they’re afraid, I don’t know. I mean, somewhere along the line, somebody influenced them to think it’s okay. Because our actions today are what we learned as we grew up, everything we’ve learned in terms of the way our friends and our colleagues and our parents taught us what to do. You harbor those issues in your mind, whether or not you learn how to differentiate and say, “That’s not the right thing to do to, doggone it, regardless of what my older brother told me. That’s wrong.” I think you just have to hopefully, again, use your brain and use your actions in the right way.

03:10:21 - 03:10:24

What’s the pros and the cons of dolphin petting (indistinct)?

03:10:25 - 03:11:08

I don’t think there’s many pros to it, really. 20 ,30 years ago it just seemed to be the best way to expose somebody to a dolphin, to let them would just go up and touch. And a lot of people would say, “Well, you’re forcing these animals to be mauled and touched.” Well, the animals can swim away at any time. It was never a big issue with that. And it was their choice. Talk about enrichment, that’s really, in that kind of situation, the dolphin’s choice, not the person’s choice. If the dolphin wasn’t gonna go over, it’s not gonna over. But what it did in terms of having the public feed the dolphins, we found over the years that you couldn’t control the diet the way you wanted to.

03:11:08 - 03:12:02

The animals were healthy, but there was a diet issue all the time. And it created, within that enrichment paradigm, you created bullies like you do in school. And some dolphins would bully. It would bully to be over there by the food or by the activity and take it out on another dolphin. So you created an artificial overview of how the animals act and how they live. I think a controlled, in-the-water interaction is just wonderful with a trained animal because you truly get to feel the skin, you get to watch the blowhole, you get to look at the flippers, you get to feel the animal. The animals phonate on you also. I don’t know if you’ve ever had that happen, but I’ve gone in the water with dolphins where they’re pinging on me.

03:12:03 - 03:12:46

I did that also with a sperm whale one time. It about knocked the regulator out of my mouth when I was diving. But the animals are just as interested in us as we are in them. And I think if somebody has a quiet moment with a dolphin and truly understands that this is a beautiful creature and I wanna protect the oceans and the creatures like it, that touch is important. Seeing it on TV isn’t the same. It’s not going to emote the same emotions. It’s not gonna fire you into, “I gotta do something different.” To me, it connects.

03:12:46 - 03:12:53

So would this be the same, the pros and cons, and are you kind of speaking about it or when we talk about dolphin swim programs?

03:12:53 - 03:13:52

Yeah, absolutely, the pros are just, there are no cons to them whatsoever, really, because it’s a managed program. The animals can come and go. They don’t have to do it. They get all their food. We don’t force them to, “Get over here. You’re gonna sit there next to these four people.” It doesn’t work that way. And I think it’s just a wonderful experience for somebody to have that opportunity, but not to do it in the wild because there’s a whole different activity level and those animals aren’t used to it and it’s not probably a good thing to do to habituate them to that kind of situation. So I’m starting up my marine mammal park, and I come to you and I say, “Brad, what issues should I be addressing in my park?” I’m not sure starting a marine mammal park would do you any good these days, but I think you have to start from the very get go.

03:13:52 - 03:14:26

Let’s go back over some of the thing. The places where these animals are gonna live has to be topnotch. The people that you have have to be topnotch. The food and veterinary care that you give them have to be topnotch. You have to have a good relationship with the town or the place or the locations, the geographic location you live in or are gonna have these animals. You gotta talk to the media. You gotta talk to the law enforcement. You gotta talk to any humane society that happens to be in that area, or humane group.

03:14:26 - 03:14:49

You gotta let them know who you are, what you’re doing, and why. You gotta work with the school systems. You gotta work with the universities. You’ve gotta get all of those programs organized and set up so you’re a complete, accepted entity within that geographic region. We realize that SeaWorld’s a pretty big organization.

03:14:49 - 03:14:57

Is SeaWorld or other marine mammal parks in danger of closing down, as Ringling Bros. did because of public pressure?

03:14:57 - 03:15:35

Yes, they have, just recently. We have the dolphinarium in Sarkanniemi, Finland move their dolphins out and closed. You’re getting pressure now in the country of France to stop breeding the dolphins at three different locations, not only stop breeding them, if they go below a certain number in terms of their social structure, then they have to get rid of them and not import any more or bring any into the country. So the activists are finding a very effective way to disrupt and end dolphin facilities.

03:15:37 - 03:15:41

Does that affect a large entity like SeaWorld?

03:15:41 - 03:16:11

It certainly could. It could, sure. I mean, you think about, in the state of California right now, it’s illegal to breed the orcas. Maybe it’s illegal to breed dolphins in all the states. The dangers are the local, the state, and the federal governments are all prone to be influenced for any silly legislation and have it go through. It happens. It’s happened.

03:16:13 - 03:16:21

So the SeaWorld’s decision to stop orca reproduction does have an effect on other marine mammal parks, indirectly?

03:16:21 - 03:16:23

I believe it does, sure.

03:16:27 - 03:16:37

Is education doing any good particularly in boosting the image of marine mammal parks among the public in the face of the anti-marine mammal groups?

03:16:37 - 03:17:12

Actually, I think that’s probably one of our strongest fortes is the education and the outreach and the children’s camps and all of the programs where people come to realize the truth. Again, you go back to that story of my friend giving me a haircut and the “Blackfish” discussion. We have had mothers say, “Well, we’re not gonna send our kids to the SeaWorld camp because we saw ‘Blackfish.'” Well, my counter to that is, “Why don’t you have them come to the camp and let them see what they see on how we take care of the animals, and then they can make up their mind.

03:17:12 - 03:17:24

Don’t make up their mind for them because I don’t think that’s fair to them.” Are aquariums worldwide more popular today?

03:17:24 - 03:17:27

And if in your opinion they are, why?

03:17:28 - 03:18:27

I think aquariums are very popular right now around the world, mainly because they’re building such beautiful, huge aquariums themselves, and unique. The technology with acrylic and life support systems, for you to walk up and see whale sharks in this huge, huge amount of water is just mindboggling. Because a lot of people, quite frankly, I grew up at the ocean, but a lot of people don’t wanna go in past their knees in the ocean because it’s terrifying to them. You know, Jaws is waiting, and something like that, or jellyfish. So I think the ocean, to be able to come into an aquarium where they’re protected and they’re safe, but to see the sea life with the technology and innovations they have today, I think it’s much more powerful than standing at an overlook into a polar bear pit.

03:18:29 - 03:18:40

Would you say this technology of this acrylic where you have these gigantic expanses of glass, I’ll say glass, but acrylic, has made a major impact?

03:18:40 - 03:19:01

I think it has, absolutely, because you’re really seeing a huge amount of the ocean and multiple species of fish, multiple specimens, schooling fish and bottom fish. And, you know, it shows you the look that you could get if you were an experienced scuba diver in the right place at the right time.

03:19:01 - 03:19:02

Does SeaWorld have that?

03:19:02 - 03:19:05

SeaWorld has many aquariums that are like that, yeah.

03:19:05 - 03:19:07

Here at the park?

03:19:07 - 03:19:10

I mean, we’re kind of digressing a bit, but I haven’t been here.

03:19:10 - 03:19:13

Do they have these giant expanses of acrylic?

03:19:13 - 03:19:17

Absolutely, not as big as some of the newer ones though.

03:19:19 - 03:19:24

What can be done to make the visitor connection programs more meaningful?

03:19:25 - 03:20:23

I think that meaningful interaction comes from, and I don’t know how you would do it, but I think it comes from like smaller groups, one-on-ones and two-on-twos or one-on-fives and one-on-sixes. I think someone like Kayla, a beautiful person could come up to a group of people and say, “Hey, by the way, just want you to know that these Humboldt penguins just hatched another chick in the back. And Humboldt penguins live in this part of the world and they’re threatened and endangered,” and give them a little bit of a slice of life that they knew it wasn’t gonna come from the sign or something or an announcement. And then that personal one-on-one, the kids go home that day, and I think they think, “Gosh, Humboldt. Let’s on the map. Let’s look where those penguins come from. What can we do?” I think the personal touch, if you wanna run a good business with a hospitality, the personal touch is the way to keep your customers.

03:20:25 - 03:20:34

What about improving the connections with a unique audience like teenagers to heighten their zeal and awareness of the natural world?

03:20:35 - 03:21:12

Boy, that’s a challenge. Their interests are so varied and most of it is all in technology. I was sitting at the airport the other day and I counted, of the 50 or 60 people in my eyesight that I could sort of see, 59 of the 60 were like this. They’re looking at their technology, their tool. And they’re not engaged with each other. They’re not talking to each other. They’re not looking at people walking around. So that’s a challenging question.

03:21:13 - 03:21:44

I’m not very good at understanding the younger generation as I should. And then you sort of take that moment where you think, “Well, when you were younger, what did you do?” “Well, I did a whole lot of different things because I didn’t have a iPhone. I had a surfboard. I went to the ocean and went bodysurfing.” And so there’s different experiences that shape your life. But I think teenagers are the future conservationists of the world.

03:21:44 - 03:21:51

And I think having, like this youth advisory group, sitting down with them and saying, “Well, what do you think about conservation?

03:21:51 - 03:21:56

What do you think about global warming?

03:21:57 - 03:22:03

What do you think about the CITES, this Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species?

03:22:03 - 03:22:40

And CITES, what’s that?” You tell them what it means, what is it for. We need to find a way to put more of nature into people’s experience. I’m not sure if I have a good answer for it though. Well my follow up was how. Yeah, yeah. But I’m sure there’s a lot of smart people out there that could probably find answers, because if we put more nature in people’s lives, I think the nature would be very well protected in the future. Because what you love is you’re gonna keep it.

03:22:40 - 03:22:52

Just because you mentioned that, do you see, I don’t know if SeaWorld does it, (indistinct) place for now around the world there are these webcams where I can see walruses in the wild?

03:22:52 - 03:22:53

Does that have a place?

03:22:53 - 03:22:55

Have you heard of any exhibitry?

03:22:56 - 03:23:03

Is anybody doing that where you bring the wild, just what you’re saying, to them?

03:23:03 - 03:23:06

Or is that something that has not been explored in this manner?

03:23:06 - 03:23:38

No, it’s been explored. I think it’s being done in a few places. And I think and I think it’s a good thing to have. I think having a webcam on a pending birth is a good thing to have, because people are never gonna see it. I mean, watching a killer whale calf being born is just amazing. I mean, you really see the epitome you of, “Well, that’s amazing. That’s just amazing what I just saw. I just saw a 300-pound baby come out.” I mean, it’s the same thing with a walrus pup.

03:23:38 - 03:23:47

You’ll see a miniature walrus come out, except for the tusks. I mean, it’s uncanny. And the thing weighs 100 pounds.

03:23:49 - 03:23:53

I think that would be wonderful to show people, especially ’cause how many people have seen it?

03:23:53 - 03:24:09

But they can also see, again, I think they should be able to see it in the context of the live animal woofing, making noise, vocalizing, swimming, eating, so you can connect it, again, to be, “This is real. This is what happens.

03:24:09 - 03:24:26

This is part of their life too, but I can’t see this right now.” From your philosophical hat, what issues would you like to see the AZA, IMATA, the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums be addressing now?

03:24:26 - 03:25:15

I think they should be addressing their brands, improving their brands with the public. I think they should work together instead of working apart. That’s what they’re doing, they’re not working together at all hardly. They’re trying to on occasions, but it doesn’t seem to ever gel. The public doesn’t really get, when they come into your, whether you’re a swim program in Mexico or you’re SeaWorld or you’re the National Zoo in Washington DC, they do not know what AZA is, IMATA is, IAAAM, Alliance. They don’t have a clue. Even if it’s on the front ticket booth or something, “We are accredited by AZA,” most people are blowing by it. They don’t know what that is.

03:25:15 - 03:25:45

They don’t know what that means. So I think it’s important for the image to be united, and I think they need to have a very effective program out there talking to the public and doing public service announcements. “We are this and this, and this what we do. We are this, and this is what we’re doing with this animal.” Everyone’s telling their own little stories, which is great, but it doesn’t have a collective oomph to it.

03:25:47 - 03:25:53

Do you think AZA has done enough in supporting the aquariums and facilities holding marine mammals?

03:25:53 - 03:26:15

No, not at all. Not at all. That’s why the alliance was formed, because AZA didn’t wanna help with the reauthorization of the Marine Mammal Protection Act back in 1984. The alliance was formed. Again, it’s you can’t stick your head in the ground, because this isn’t a dolphin issue. This is more.

03:26:16 - 03:26:18

So what do you think AZA should be doing then?

03:26:18 - 03:26:45

I think they should be supporting all animals, all institutions, and raising the poorer ones up out of the gutters and having some sort of mentorship program so that everybody’s playing on a fair playing ground and the quality of care is the same everywhere. It’s just gotta be more approachable and, I think, excellent in its approach to having the highest standards ever everywhere.

03:26:47 - 03:26:55

Should IMATA or the alliance be doing anything different to communicate their message regarding maintaining marine mammals?

03:26:55 - 03:27:52

The alliance is a small organization. They do a very good job keeping themselves informed and fighting some of these legislative issues with the facts and science and things like that. So they’re doing a little bit more a concerted effort because they’re marine mammal focused. IMATA is also doing a good job, but again, a lot of the IMATA members, individual members, are working down in the food chain, so to speak, at some of these zoos and aquariums. So they have a hard time getting strategies or philosophical changes in management structures. But they’re good people. And they’re also doing a great job, because what they have done amongst themselves today is they do not accept people, or they shun the idea of having a relationship with somebody that doesn’t train their animal properly in a positive manner. They just will not put up with it.

03:27:52 - 03:27:59

So, in essence, they’re sort of the watchdogs of the trainers’ world, which is good, and we need more of that.

03:28:00 - 03:28:01

But, again, the public?

03:28:01 - 03:28:19

“IMATA? What does that mean?” How can aquarium, zoos, and marine mammal parks help raise the public consciousness of environmental issues and drive action, especially those that may result in the loss of animals or their habitats?

03:28:20 - 03:29:19

Again, I think they have to work together in a concerted effort, in a way, similar to this new SAFE program where they’ve earmarked within AZA, you know, “Let’s take care of the South African penguin, let’s take care of sharks and let’s take care of certain species. Let’s focus on it and all do it together.” So that not only are they doing that together, the money’s going there and it’s going to the ground somewhere with logical good work, but the guests coming to these institutions know that part of their admission is going to these particular problems. And then we have to tell people the stories that we forget to talk about, the California condor, the black-footed ferret, the Arabian oryx. We the community have saved species because they focused on it. But I think a lot of people don’t know that. It’s taken for granted, except for the facilities that worked on it. People don’t really understand what’s actually the Przewalski horse.

03:29:19 - 03:29:21

I mean, who cares?

03:29:21 - 03:29:22

I mean, is it a big deal or not?

03:29:22 - 03:29:24

Sure it’s a big deal.

03:29:24 - 03:29:25

How does it apply to them?

03:29:25 - 03:30:00

But you have to start using success models, talk about them so the models that you’re working on can have oomph and work and people will support it. You know, you just think about sharks, and I talk to people about sharks. And sharks just have a bad image and their fecundity rate and they’re slower and they don’t they don’t have as many, sharks have to reach certain age to have more shark pups. And yet, you hear statistics, and it’s hard to verify some of these statistics, that 100 million sharks are killed every year through bycatch or finning.

03:30:00 - 03:30:03

And you think, “100 million?

03:30:03 - 03:30:10

I can’t even imagine that number.” I mean, how do you visualize that?

03:30:10 - 03:30:16

If every shark was five feet long, that would go around the Earth six times, every year?

03:30:16 - 03:30:36

I mean that’s insane. So we have to find a way to shock people and then get them involved. “This is what’s gonna happen if we don’t do this. You gotta be involved. And, gosh darn it, I’m telling you the truth.” And we gotta make sure the truth is the truth. We gotta pass those red-face tests.

03:30:37 - 03:30:44

So how important is it to educate lawmakers about the marine mammal parks and zoos and aquariums?

03:30:44 - 03:31:26

Lawmakers need to be educated all the time, because their information is given to them by their aides who hear it from blogs who hear it from the BS sources. And that’s not pie on their priority, believe me. Lawmakers aren’t that concerned about animal issues these days. They got bigger fish to fry, so to speak, and more confusion than ever right now. But having your lawmakers come to your facilities, invite their families, or go to Washington and sit down with them for 10 minutes and just say, “This is what we do. This is who we are. This is the animals we rescue.

03:31:26 - 03:31:42

These are the animals we take care of. It’s important.” Does SeaWorld or the alliance, or even IMATA, do they have people who are talking to lawmakers?

03:31:42 - 03:32:21

I mean, specific people who are there to promote that particular image. Absolutely, yeah, all those organizations have somebody in Washington as their representative. All of those organizations do fly-ins where, certain times of the year, they fly in and everybody gets divvied up. “You go visit this representative from your state and you go visit this person. Here’s the message. Keep it simple.” And they’re doing a lot of that. That AZA does it, the ZAA does it, all of the trade associations do it. And all of them are fairly good at it. The question is the relationship.

03:32:21 - 03:32:51

You have to have a relationship. And you gotta build it And you just can’t go once. And, a lot of times, you end up getting stuck, not with the congressman or the senator, so you have to talk to their staff. Which is okay, but again, the relationship is built. And you have to invite people and you gotta go back. And once in a while, you’re gonna run into someone who is the state senator. And I think that’s important. You’ve worked in a corporate organization.

03:32:51 - 03:32:58

What differences were there from your colleagues who’ve worked in public aquariums systems?

03:32:59 - 03:33:47

I think there is a big difference, because we’re dealing with that corporate world and the profit margin. But I have to remind my colleagues that are in the not-for-profit arena that they still have to make money to survive, it’s just distributed differently. You know, when you make profit in a company like SeaWorld, you give it to the shareholders. If you make profit at some of the zoos that are, quote-unquote, not for profit, they still have to make money to feed the bears and feed the elephants and pay the staff and pay the insurance. So they just account for it differently. There isn’t really a big difference. We have to be a viable business in this space to make it all work. Some people do it better than others, that’s all.

03:33:47 - 03:33:53

Do you feel your colleagues felt because you worked for a corporation that you had more resources?

03:33:53 - 03:34:41

They always felt that way. They always thought SeaWorld has got this big pool because they have all the money. And they would be somewhat, though, critical of the fact that you’re for profit, and, therefore, we probably wouldn’t support the whole idea that Fish and Wildlife should give you a permit because you’re for profit. And I used to argue with them for days on that end. It doesn’t make any difference. Profit or not for profit isn’t a permitting issue. That’s a banking issue and a governance issue and has nothing to do with whether or not you can take better care of your animals or import an animal from Africa or whatever. I give you a (indistinct).

03:34:41 - 03:34:44

I tell you that money is not an object.

03:34:45 - 03:34:47

What exhibit would you put together?

03:34:51 - 03:35:28

I think I’d put together an experience of being able to walk through the bottom of the ocean. Or maybe you take the whole trip through the water world. You start as a raindrop at the top of a tree or a mountain and you can find a way to see the life as you move down towards the seashore into the seashore into the depths, how you would project that without just the glass or acrylic we talked about.

03:35:29 - 03:35:33

How do you have portals in it where you get wet?

03:35:33 - 03:35:39

How do you have portals in it where you smell the scents of the ocean, the salt?

03:35:40 - 03:35:42

How do you encompass the whole journey?

03:35:45 - 03:36:24

I don’t know how you’d do it, but I would tend to think, if money’s no object, you could probably figure out a way, because, again, I think that gives you the whole idea of the water and how important water is in our lives and the animal’s lives and our lives. And so it sort of puts that whole package together that 70% of you is water and there’s a reason. I think it would just add a lot more, I think you’d appreciate yourself and the environment you live in better. You’re now involved in a whole different aspect with the American Humane Association.

03:36:25 - 03:36:28

How did this happen and what’s your role?

03:36:29 - 03:36:44

It happened sort of in the aftermath of the “Blackfish” issues. And we were sitting around a table with a bunch of individuals and friends and institutions. And we called ourselves the Kitchen Cabinet.

03:36:44 - 03:36:55

It was kind of a silly name, but we were talking about the fact that we didn’t think the public trusted us much anymore because of the images, and how do we gain back that public trust?

03:36:56 - 03:37:02

How do we reinforce that public trust and gain back the humane?

03:37:02 - 03:37:06

We are the humane caretakers of animals, how do we gain that back?

03:37:07 - 03:38:03

And I was introduced to some individuals at the American Humane Association, and I didn’t realize who they even were. They have the same kind of brand identity that everyone else has. “Who are they, the ASPCA? Are they HSUS?” You know, some people think it’s all the same. Well, they’re dramatically different in terms of what they do and how much money they raise and things like that. Well, as I mentioned, they rescued war horses in World War I, and they still rescue animals today. In fact, with Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, they have veterinary trucks and veterinarians and technicians go in into the permitted areas after these storms and rescue all the people’s pets and dogs and cats and horses and care for them and find their owners and get food. So there’s still a very strong component of rescue. There’s a very strong component in Hollywood where the animals are on movies, in movies.

03:38:03 - 03:38:40

There’s a very strong component with the military. They reunite all the military dogs with their service members who have come back to the states from Iran and Iraq and Afghanistan. They also have a service dog training program now for soldiers that need that help. And the philosophy is a leash in the hand means 0% suicides because you have a buddy. And a buddy on a leash is, you gotta care for your buddy and your buddy cares for you. So these programs were really dramatic. And I knew nothing about them. And they also had have a program called Humane Heartland.

03:38:40 - 03:40:25

Humane Heartland is where they actually have set up an audit system where they go into large food producers and they audit the five domains and the five freedoms of the animals to make sure the animals are well taken care of before they become our food so like Butterball and some of the big companies can obviously then say, “We’re certified American Humane that the animals were well taken care of before they became part of the food process, our food system.” So we sat down and we talked. And I’ll make this shorter. We basically said, “How can we certify that zoos and aquariums really do take good care of their animals, and their enrichment, their wellness, their welfare is taken care of?” And so we gathered a bunch of scientists and behaviorists and curators and ethicists and wrote out this huge auditing tool. And it’s based upon how well the animal looks, how it’s acting, how it’s acting with its cohabitants, how it reacts when the public’s there, when it reacts in dark time when it’s getting dark in the evening. So it’s an overall stamp. Look at the animals. And what my job is for this, and I’m consulting with them, I’m finding individuals who are now either in universities or field research or retired who know animals, or they’re experts, and then we train them how to use the tool. And they go to these zoos and aquariums and they sit for three or four days watching the animals, conversing with each other, conversing with the staff and the veterinarians. And it’s a pass-fail.

03:40:25 - 03:41:24

And you’re either certified or you’re not that you’ve passed that threshold that your animals are pretty good shape and they’re doing well. And they don’t worry about whether or not your education programs are over there, the SSP programs or you have special bathrooms for the disabled or your finances are okay. They’re not worried about the mortar and bricks. But it’s a third-party, independent audit on the welfare of animals. And I think it’s a great program, number one. Number two, I found some great people that used to work at zoos and aquariums that really do understand animals. And so we pick different auditors depending upon what type of collection they have, what type of animals. And then, when it’s done, they can tell that public, they can go to their local newspaper, they can go to their public and say, “We are certified by someone that are experts, that, yes, we do take good care of our animals.

03:41:24 - 03:41:57

It’s just not me saying so anymore.” And I think that’s important. I think it’s important for someone else to say so that you and your zoo take good care of your animals. I think that builds the trust. And I think lawmakers and other people, policymakers, will have a better feeling for that type of a process. I think accreditation is fine. It’s beautiful. It’s your peers looking at each other trying to figure out to raise the standard, but it is not always done in the spirit of independence.

03:41:59 - 03:42:09

And how many zoos have taken, availed themselves of this?

03:42:09 - 03:42:49

There’s been a few that haven’t made the cut. 25 have been certified so far. There’s about 18 more in the queue. And it becomes a public announcement if they choose to. If they don’t wanna choose to, that’s fine. They can use it in any manner they want. And it’s kept very confidential unless they want a work in concert with American Humane about telling the world. And the CEO of American Humane, for instance, Dr. Robin Ganzert, just went to somewhere in Kansas where Tanganyika Safari Park is, because they were certified, and had a press conference with a mayor and everybody else.

03:42:49 - 03:42:55

And she was just blown away at Jim Fouts’ place, just blown away. And it’s a beautiful place.

03:42:56 - 03:42:59

Is this a yearly accreditation?

03:42:59 - 03:43:46

The certification, it’s a certification and it’s differentiated, it should last for four years unless something dramatic has happened and a new exhibit or a new animal issue or something like that. But we’re trying to build the trust of the new certified institutions that we’ll work together to create these messages that I talked about earlier, to go out to mothers and millennials and things like that to talk about, “Here’s these places that are certified that take good care of their animals and conservation is a good outcome,” because, as you know, if we don’t have knowledgeable, good people taking good care of animals, we’re never gonna have effective conservation. So in situ and ex situ have to work together. And I think this is a wonderful program.

03:43:46 - 03:43:49

And this is something you’re administrating?

03:43:49 - 03:44:29

Oh, all I’m doing is making the connections for people. There’s a group of people that are doing the auditing. There’s a group of people that are train the auditors. There’s a scientific advisory group. Their headquarters in Washington. All I’m doing is saying, “Hey, listen,” Glenn Young, who’s a great friend of mine who worked at SeaWorld and Busch Gardens for 20, 40 years or so, is now retired and surfing over in Melbourne, but he knows when he looks at animals what’s the right way to look at animals and what the behaviors should be and what they shouldn’t be. So I connect Glen to the audit team. He’s trained, and on occasions, maybe once a month or once every two months, he’s called and off he goes to join a team to audit somebody.

03:44:31 - 03:44:41

So I’m doing more, right now, I’m just connecting places to the program and people to the program. Now, you’re still active in other things.

03:44:41 - 03:44:47

You mentioned that you’re still head of the conservation, Busch Conservation?

03:44:47 - 03:45:10

I’m still the president of the SeaWorld Busch Gardens Conservation Fund. And I’m president right now of the European Aquatic Animal Medicine group. I’m also a current chairman of the United States Rugby Foundation, who raises money for youth rugby, for the development of the sport. I’m doing all sorts of things.

03:45:10 - 03:45:13

So you’re Still pretty busy, certainly, within the animal world?

03:45:13 - 03:45:53

Absolutely, I feel committed to this, because I want people to understand, and it’s just not me, it’s I have worked so long with animals now I’d hate to have the community just go away. I’d just hate to see in 50 years from now that somebody’s grandchildren’s grandchildren couldn’t go to a zoo or an aquarium. And I see some of that foundational issues eroding today, that that could possibly happen. And I don’t wanna see that happen.

03:45:53 - 03:45:59

So if you could go back in time, what if anything would you have done differently as a manager?

03:46:04 - 03:46:54

I would’ve called Dawn Brancheau that day and told her not to come to work if I could go back and play God, ’cause that’s still, it bugs me every day. You know, you can go back and look at a lot of things and say, “I should have done this, I could’ve, would’ve, should’ve.” Of course, you can’t do those things. But I think I’ve always been pretty vocal and I’ve never really hid back my feelings. So I feel strongly about that. I wasn’t ever hesitant to tell people what I thought. I’m sure I irritated people many times saying the things I said, but I don’t think I’d change much at all because we were pretty damn successful at everything.

03:46:56 - 03:47:09

Aside from being a drop of rain and what you wanted to do, we still have to figure that out, are there any programs or exhibits that you would’ve implemented during your tenure, yet it just didn’t happen?

03:47:11 - 03:48:13

You tried to sell them, and the time wasn’t right. I, at one point, approached the company and talked about the whole idea of bringing all the animals from Busch Gardens to Orlando and integrating a marine and a safari, Africa, terrestrial park, sort of the biggest and best in the world in a tourist destination where 64 million people come. This was before a Wild Animal Kingdom and everything else at Disney. I just thought that would’ve been the best idea in the world. It could have been a three-day family adventure, and then you could see killer whales one day and elephants the next day and a giraffe and dolphins. I mean, I just thought it would be the coolest thing in the world to do. And then we could build all brand new exhibits and all sorts of things. So one of these days I’ll have the opportunity.

03:48:13 - 03:48:19

Somebody’ll say, “I wanna build that kind of a park.” And I’ll go, “I’m in.” What’s your proudest accomplishment?

03:48:22 - 03:48:39

I think my proudest accomplishment is simply being able to stay healthy and work 44 years in a job that I never dreamt of that I do and love every minute of it, even at bad times.

03:48:41 - 03:48:46

Are there any zoos and aquariums and marine mammal parks in the world you particularly admire?

03:48:46 - 03:48:48

And if there is, why?

03:48:48 - 03:48:51

Where are they, other than SeaWorld?

03:48:51 - 03:49:22

I admire a lot of the, I admire parts. Parts of every zoo is good. I mean, some of them are better. St Louis Zoo is good, Fort Worth Zoo is good, San Diego’s Zoo is good. I mean, all my friends that are out there, Georgia Aquarium’s nice, Shedd Aquarium’s nice. There’s a new aquarium in Zhuhai, China that’s beautiful. I hope they maintain it. There’s a beautiful safari park in Thailand I’ve been to that’s just awesome.

03:49:23 - 03:50:05

So there a lot of good places out there. And there’s a beautiful place of all, I went to a zoo outside of Brussels, Belgium just recently called Pairi Daiza. And it’s the biggest and most fantastic zoo I’ve ever seen. They have panda bears, and the orangutan exhibit is the biggest I’ve ever seen in the world. And it’s an hour and a half drive from Brussels. So there are genuinely neat places everywhere. And then, of course, there are crap places, and that’s the things we gotta change. We gotta find ways to change that.

03:50:06 - 03:50:21

‘Cause I know that people want to change it, they just don’t have the either the resources or the financial way to move forward. And some way along the line, we gotta move that forward, or just find other homes for those animals so we don’t have that side of the coin.

03:50:24 - 03:50:30

Any suggestions to those young professionals in the field on how to make a difference?

03:50:31 - 03:51:27

I think that the only advice I give people nowadays is get the truth, use the truth, and keep moving it forward because people are lazy nowadays sometimes and half the information is okay, half a job is okay. Not doing the thing 100% isn’t worth it to me. So I think they should do it, you’re either all in or all out, all in or all out. We had talked briefly about the extinction. And you were gonna talk about that, the sixth extinction. Well, it’s not necessarily something I’ve been writing about. I had a long conversation with and read E.O. Wilson’s book on the sixth extinction. And the thing that’s dramatic, when you think about it, we’ve had five other extinctions in our history of the globe.

03:51:27 - 03:52:24

And, of course, some of them were millions and millions and millions of years ago, but they were caused mostly by some cataclysmic effect, or catastrophic effect. This sixth extinction that we’re in the midst of right now is being caused by people because there’s too many people and what we’re doing. If you have a baby today and that baby is fortunate enough to live to be 84 years old, 50% of the species that are on Earth today will be gone, and in the next 84 years. That’s stunning to me. That’s unacceptable to me. And then you look at, again, what we’ve lost, like the auk and the Steller’s sea cow and the animals that are, the baiji river dolphin. I spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in China trying to save the baiji river dolphin, and they just didn’t get it done. They couldn’t figure it out.

03:52:26 - 03:52:56

And you look at the animals that are gone, and now you’re looking at some of the animals that are on the edge and going away. We’re losing lots of species every day. You know, we’re losing things like bumblebees and we’re losing bats. And we’re and losing not just (indistinct) fauna, we’re losing all sorts of species. And then you stop and you think about, again, the knowledgeable people from zoos and aquariums and knowledgeable conservationists have saved species that I’ve mentioned earlier.

03:52:56 - 03:52:58

And why can’t we go that way?

03:52:58 - 03:53:05

Why can’t we get knowledgeable people to do this and stop the mass extinction that’s going on?

03:53:05 - 03:53:34

Now, this encompass a lot of discussions, because is then you’re gonna have to start talking about birth control, population growth, cultural issues, religious issues. I mean, there wouldn’t be any wars today if we didn’t have lines in the sand in religion. We could better take care of each other and our animals if we didn’t have that. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. I just think people have to realize that our Earth is slipping away from us and with that is the dignity of why we were put here, is to take care of it.

03:53:37 - 03:53:43

What do you know about this profession that you’ve devoted so many years of your life?

03:53:45 - 03:54:37

The profession is filled with individuals who have a passion and a love for what they’re doing, most of them. Some of them nowadays that are getting involved, I’m not sure why they’re getting involved at all. I don’t know if it’s because they think it’s important for their ego or they’re making a lot of money. Most animal people don’t make a lot of money. But you do have some individuals out there that they’re pulling down huge salaries running zoos, and you’re just thinking, “How in the heck’s that happening?” But it happens. More power to them. But, again, I think the community’s filled with a lot of great people. And I wish that we’d all get on the same train and move it in the right direction. And then I think we’d make better progress.

03:54:37 - 03:54:40

How would you like to be remembered?

03:54:41 - 03:54:46

Just that I wanted to keep moving forward instead of going backwards.

About Brad Andrews

Brad Andrews
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General Curator

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment: Orlando, Florida

Chief Zoological Officer Emeritus

Brad Andrews began his professional career in 1972 as an animal keeper at Marineland of the Pacific. He ended his 15-year tenure at the park as General Curator. In 1987 his association with SeaWorld began as Associate Curator.

He moved upward in the organization leaving in 2016 as Chief Zoological Officer being responsible for all animal programs in SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Parks.

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The views and opinions expressed in this interview are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Zoo & Aquarium Video Archive or those acting under their authority.