It's a reassuring announcement - but SeaWorld's critics are wary. In the past, SeaWorld has used "rescuing" an animal as an excuse to keep individuals captive who, experts argue, could be returned to the wild. There are also concerns that SeaWorld selected the UAE to get away from increasing scrutiny over animal welfare in the U.S., as the UAE is known to be comparatively lax and is an infamous hub in the exotic animal trade.
"This new park, combined with a dedicated research, rescue, rehabilitation and return facility focused on marine life care and conservation, continues SeaWorld's legacy of marine life rescue that spans more than 50 years," Joel Manby, CEO of SeaWorld, said in a statement. "This project presents an opportunity for collaboration and greater understanding of how species have adapted to the region's unique marine environment, and to inspire the next generation of visitors, conservationists and animal care experts."