SeaWorld Conservation Fund Makes Multi-Year Grant to World Vets to Help Build Largest Capacity for Marine Animal Rescue on San Cristobal Island in the Galápagos


The SeaWorld Conservation Fund recently announced a multi-year grant  to help World Vets build the largest capacity for marine animal rescue on San Cristobal Island in the Galápagos, in collaboration with the Galápagos National Park. The funds will improve the infrastructure of the existing small facility used for wildlife response, build additional capacity for responding to and rescuing sick, injured, and entangled marine animals and other wildlife of the Galápagos Islands, and enable the study and baseline health monitoring of native species. Priority species will primarily be marine mammals, especially Galápagos sea lions and will also include Galápagos fur seals, dolphins, whales, sea turtles, Galápagos penguins, marine iguanas, and other native and endemic wildlife of the archipelago. The Galápagos has many species of animals not found anywhere else in the world and is a United Nations World Heritage Site protected by an international convention administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

“We are very grateful to the SeaWorld Conservation Fund for their support which will help us fill a critical need in the Galapagos Islands, providing long-term and foundational capacity building and consistent veterinary support for marine species and other wildlife,” said Dr. Cathy King, Founder and CEO of World Vets and a conservation medicine veterinarian. “The many endangered and threatened wildlife species of the archipelago need our help as they face significant threats from climate change, introduced species, plastics pollution, and interactions with a growing human population. With this funding and our collaboration with the Galápagos National Park, we can have an even greater positive impact on the conservation of marine life.”

Specific project goals and objectives that will be made possible by the funding include:

  • Facility upgrades for expanded veterinary services and short-term hospitalization, treatment, clinical care and field response. The grant will also make it possible to provide full-time veterinary staffing and 24×7 field responder coverage and availability.
  • Improved data collection, identification, and recovery of animals. A new data collection app will be developed for use by field responders, veterinarians, park rangers and naturalist guides to facilitate and improve reporting and documentation. Public outreach to improve the identification and reporting of animals in distress, as well as routine beach surveys and drone surveys to spot and remotely evaluate animals in need will be included.
  • Documenting and monitoring health trends, unusual mortality events and disease outbreaks. The funds will help facilitate more routine post-mortem examinations and to disseminate information on outcomes and any emerging health and disease trends.

Dr. Chris Dold, President of the SeaWorld Conservation Fund and Chief Zoological Officer of SeaWorld said, “At SeaWorld, we believe that marine animal rescue is a key tool for the conservation of marine species, and we are proud to help World Vets develop the added capacity they need to expand their important work. The rescue and rehabilitation of all species, both those living in abundant numbers and those deemed vulnerable or threatened, gives us and other marine health practitioners invaluable information about wildlife health and the diseases and threats present in the ocean. Marine mammals are sentinels for the health of the ocean and by caring for them we improve our ability to protect and preserve animals and their ocean environment today and into the future.”

All work will be done in collaboration with and under the direction of the Galápagos National Park. The Galápagos Islands are located on the equator, 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador. The Islands are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, an area legally protected by an international convention administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

The public can help support funding of projects like this one by making a SeaWorld Conservation Fund donation online or in the SeaWorld parks. Since inception in 2003, the SeaWorld Conservation Fund has provided more than $20 million in grants to provide financial and scientific support to 1,391 different animal conservation and ecosystem projects on all seven continents.

About World Vets

One of two major focus areas for the World Vets program in Galápagos is developing the capacity for rescue, response, and veterinary services for sick, injured, entangled and dead marine animals and other native wildlife, especially in cases of human interaction. Efforts also contribute to research and conservation efforts for native wildlife species, especially the endangered Galápagos sea lions which are a primary focus.

World Vets was established over 20 years ago (with NGO status in 2006) as an international veterinary aid organization, bringing veterinary expertise, capacity building and direct care for animals to underserved areas of the world. Since then, World Vets has worked extensively in over 50 countries on 6 continents, has responded to major international disasters, has deployed numerous veterinary teams on US military humanitarian aid missions aboard US Navy hospital ships, has provided care that has benefitted over a million animals and has provided training in surgery and anesthesia techniques to over 1100 veterinarians from developing countries.

World Vets has an established presence in the Galápagos Islands and extensive experience in international development, marine mammal stranding response, rapid program implementation in challenging locations and over two decades of successful veterinary aid work in developing regions, especially Latin American countries.

About the SeaWorld Conservation Fund

Established in 2003, the SeaWorld Conservation Fund is a 501(c)(3) non-profit private foundation that supports grassroots conservation projects that make a difference in species research, habitat protection, conservation education, and animal rescue and rehabilitation. It has provided more than $20 million in grants to provide financial and scientific support to 1,391 different marine and land-based animal conservation and ecosystem projects on all seven continents. More than 100 different species have been helped through these grants. Funding comes through a variety of sources including contributions by SeaWorld’s corporate entity, SeaWorld Entertainment, and from the parks via roundups at the register, merchandise sales, and special events. Corporate partners contribute to the Fund, and consumers can support the cause by making donations in the parks or online. SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. covers all expenses and overhead for the Fund. This enables it to return 100 percent of every penny donated directly to the projects supported. Grant applications are accepted annually, though 2022-2023 grant applications are by invitation only. Both one-time and multi-year support is provided for recipient organizations.

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