WASHINGTON, May 19, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) and SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. today announced the creation of the Killer Whale Research and Conservation Program, which will fund projects to help study and protect killer whales in the wild. SeaWorld has committed $1.5 million over three years to this new partnership and NFWF will seek to match this commitment with additional public and private dollars. The project is part of SeaWorld's $10 million pledge to fund research and conservation for killer whales in the wild – the largest private commitment of its kind.
The Killer Whale Research and Conservation Program (KWRCP) will focus on three strategies: increasing prey availability; improving habitat quality; and strengthening management through crucial research. NFWF plans to release an initial Request for Proposals (RFP) June 8 in conjunction with the global celebration of World Oceans Day.
"Killer whales are amazing animals and as a species at the top of the food chain, they play a key role in the health of the ocean ecosystem," said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. "We are excited to be a partner with SeaWorld, a company with a long-term commitment to conservation efforts, in this critical effort to help restore the populations of killer whales found in the Pacific Northwest."
The program is dedicated primarily to providing support to aid in the recovery of the Southern Resident killer whale population found in the coastal waters of Washington State and surrounding areas, known as the Salish Sea.
"SeaWorld and the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund have long supported organizations that focus on results-driven, on-the-ground research and conservation work," said Joel Manby, president and chief executive officer of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. "NFWF has a longstanding reputation for working efficiently and effectively to conserve species and their habitats and we are looking forward to working together to protect wild killer whale populations."
In the coming weeks and months, NFWF will enter into important public-private partnerships that will include governmental agencies, non-governmental organizations and scientists to develop the KWRCP and scientific platform.
For more information on the Killer Whale Research and Conservation Program, please visit www.nfwf.org/killerwhales.
About the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
Chartered by Congress in 1984, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) protects and restores the nation's fish, wildlife, plants and habitats. Working with federal, corporate and individual partners, NFWF has funded more than 4,000 organizations and committed more than $2.9 billion to conservation projects. Learn more at www.nfwf.org.
About SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc.
SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. (NYSE: SEAS) is a leading theme park and entertainment company delivering personal, interactive and educational experiences that blend imagination with nature and enable its customers to celebrate, connect with and care for the natural world we share. The Company owns or licenses a portfolio of globally recognized brands including SeaWorld®, Shamu® and Busch Gardens®. As part of SeaWorld's $10 million commitment, multiple killer whale projects are already underway through funding provided by the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund (SWBGCF). Since its creation, the Fund has awarded over $11 million in conservation grants to over 800 organizations for a wide variety of conservation programs worldwide; 100% of the funding we raise goes toward these conservation projects.
SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. is one of the world's foremost zoological organizations and a global leader in animal welfare, training, husbandry and veterinary care. The Company also rescues and rehabilitates marine and terrestrial animals that are ill, injured, orphaned or abandoned, with the goal of returning them to the wild. The SeaWorld rescue team has helped more than 25,000 animals in need over the last 50 years. Copies of this and other news releases as well as additional information about SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. can be obtained online at www.seaworldentertainment.com.
CONTACT: Rob Blumenthal, NFWF, 202-595-2457, Aimee Jeansonne Becka, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, 407-226-5258
Source:National Fish and Wildlife Foundation