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See rescued pilot whales during Wild Days at SeaWorld Orlando

Four rescued pilot whales at SeaWorld Orlando.
Four rescued pilot whales at SeaWorld Orlando.
Barb Nefer

You may remember the pilot whale stranding in the news in September, 2012. What ever happened to the 22 whales that stranded themselves at Avalon State Park in St. Lucie County, Florida? Sadly, most of them perished, but there's a ray of light in an otherwise sad story. Three of them are alive and well at SeaWorld Orlando, along with a fourth from a separate rescue, and you can see them before the Blue Horizons dolphin show during Wild Days.

The pilot whales were orphaned and sent to SeaWorld Orlando for care. Because of their previous research with animals like dolphins, the park's animal care specialists were able to prepare a "formula" to nourish the frail creatures and bring them back to health. Unfortunately, they were so young when they were stranded that they'll never be able to survive on their own in the wild. The government decided that the park was the best place for them, so SeaWorld will care for them for the rest of their natural lives.

You can see these gorgeous pilot whales in the slideshow accompanying this article. Come out during Wild Days, which runs on Saturdays and Sundays from January 11 to 26 and you'll see them in person before Blue Horizons. They don't actually perform, but they're getting used to coming out in front of crowds. If they seem to enjoy performing, they'll eventually become part of the show.

"Blackfish" tries to demonize the park, but when you see these rescued animals, you'll see the importance of their rescue and conservation work first hand. If you'd like a peek at the rescue area where animals are rehabilitated, jump to this article.

The pilot whales were originally treated with a "hands off" approach when they first came to the park, other than necessary care, in case they'd be able to go back to the wild. Now that they're permanent SeaWorld residents, they're learning more everyday as the trainers work with them and do training sessions and enrichment activities.

If you see them at Blue Horizons, you'll also get the chance to see the park's dolphins and birds perform. Jump to this article for some scenes from that show.

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