6 Awful Realities Behind the Scenes at SeaWorld

#3. Working There Rips Your Body Apart

Dan Rabideau/iStock/Getty Images

My day would start as early as 4:30 a.m. in the fish house, and in addition to loading several tons of fish (dolphins eat a lot), you need to completely sanitize the entire room several times a day with a harsh compound comprised of abrasive chemicals and the tears of interns. After about three days of scrubbing buckets, picking scales off of steel surfaces, and ripping apart frozen fish, my hands started to look like wads of hamburger and baby teeth.

bhofack2/iStock/Getty Images
A dolphin's second-favorite food.

While you may know that a wetsuit is great for insulation, most people aren't going to realize that it can be pretty harsh on your body. This is why so many surfers tape their nipples before suiting up: It's the only way to keep those tender little nubs from getting sandpapered off. And it didn't help that we all shared the wetsuits -- and that some of us liked to go commando.

The chafing eventually gets so bad that trainers end up slathering diaper-rash cream all over their bodies before they clock in. All that water, sun, and friction ends in a much less sensual way than you would expect any combination of those three words to achieve. And speaking of the sun, did you know that shit causes cancer? Your whole day involves milling around in the water with no shade -- I knew a guy who had been there 15 years and gotten reconstructive surgery on his nose three times because the sun had damaged it so badly.

Judith Bicking/iStock/Getty Images
"This time, make it look like a whatsitcalled. One of those fish with swords."

So yeah, remember all those happy, pretty wet folks from that image search earlier? Picture stripping that wetsuit off of them and finding just a big quivering lump of athlete's foot spilling out like melted Jell-O. It's a goddamn Carpenter film up in your drawers.

#2. The Guests Are Drunken Lunatics

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The majority of guests are ... well, I don't want to say "terrible people," but they are normally good folks who just emptied their bank accounts to bring their entire family down to Florida (on purpose!) just to visit a baking hot zoo that's been advertised like it's a freaking amusement park. Then we gave them free booze. That's like an instruction sheet on how to build an asshole.

Ahodges7/Wikimedia
Step 3: Surround the subject with silly, easily mocked victims.

Yes, in many cases, the alcohol is comped. My park made the spectacular decision to offer an "all-inclusive package" that roughly translated to "come get shitfaced and ride some dolphins!" Which ... sounds pretty awesome, at first. The reality is less so.

Some guests were heavily inebriated parents who had given up control of their children to the wild, while others would flirt with the trainers in full view of their spouses, and others just wanted to find a semi-secluded spot to bone in the water. I'm no prude, but for the love of God, please keep your drunken canoodling ass away from the wild predatory animals that I am in charge of protecting.

Phalinn Ooi
"Tell me more about this ... blowhole of yours."

When I was working in the aviary, a big caged-in exhibit filled with exotic birds, my job was to hand out cups of food to the guests passing through and educate them about the wildlife. Next to me was a tawny frogmouth -- an owly-looking bird that sits perfectly still most of the day.

So I was standing there, explaining something awesome to a kid with eyes as big as saucers (easily the best part of the job), when a guest walked straight up to the bird, squinted his eyes in confusion, and shoved him off his perch as hard as he could. Down went the bird, out flipped me. I would later be reprimanded for cussing at a guest, but the drunken guy walked away like nothing had happened, free to dick his way through the rest of the animal kingdom.

#1. Animals Are Even Grosser Than You Think

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You know who is way into masturbation? OK, no, don't raise your hands. We're talking about animals here, remember? Animals are huge fans of freeing willy.

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That's why seals are always all lubed up.

Walruses in particular like to jerk it, and I knew trainers who had to, on multiple occasions, swim through a rich, foamy latte of walrus semen. One was just getting in the water to train when a walrus decided to empty the old chum bucket. After he finished ... well, she had to continue working through it, because she was an animal trainer, and being a trainer sometimes means taking a bath in interspecies jizz. They tend not to put that part in the recruitment pamphlets.

But this wasn't some weird crush the walrus had on his trainer or anything: He got off on public masturbation. Seriously, he'd do it in front of guests because they would -- without fail -- start applauding, and he loved that shit. Exhibitionism fetishes aren't limited to humans.

David Tribble
They told him that if he kept masturbating, his tusks would fall out, but did he listen?

Quick aside: You want to know what maggot feces tastes like? No, you say? Please, God, I'll do anything not to know that, you say?

Don't get a job at SeaWorld.

Since lizards and birds eat maggots, we used to get these gigantic tubes of them for feeding. For a while it was my job to pop them open and act as a grub delivery man. When you pop the tubes open, there's always a big puff of sweet-smelling powder that utterly inundates you -- your arms, your face, up your nose, and even down your throat. And that sweet, sweet powder, my friends, is the poop. Maggot poop.

Maggot poop tastes sweet, like honey. Good luck unknowing that.


JF Sargent once touched a dolphin in the wild, so suck it, SeaWorld. He's also on Twitter and Facebook. Chitinous Radula no longer works in animal training.

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