Orlando, Fla., May 6, 2011 — SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment today announced the launch of “Turtle: The Incredible Journey,” a family documentary directed by National Geographic Explorer’s Nick Stringer. The film will be distributed in partnership with Hannover House by SeaWorld’s newly formed SeaWorld Pictures division. Hannover House is the entertainment unit of Target Development Group (Pinksheets: TDGI).
Turtle: The Incredible Journey is an award-winning film that follows the life and migration of a loggerhead turtle from hatching to maturity and a return to its original Florida nesting grounds. The loggerhead turtle, a threatened species, has one of the longest and most difficult migratory patterns of any marine animal: Sea turtles newly hatched on the East Coast of the United States (usually in Florida) make their way from the sand into the ocean, and then begin a voyage that can span the entire Atlantic Ocean, only to return decades later to that same beach.
“This is a remarkable story crafted by one of the world’s most gifted documentary filmmakers,” said Scott Helmstedter, Chief Creative Officer for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. “Turtle: The Incredible Journey does what our parks have been doing for more than five decades: inspire, enrich and entertain. Helping bring this film and its powerful message of the fragility and beauty of our oceans to the public is what SeaWorld is and what we have always been about.”
Stringer’s documentary team follows the loggerhead turtle on an adventure of more than 9,000 miles guided only by instinct. Stringer and his camera crew spent two years following loggerhead turtles on their trips across the ocean, and have captured on film the remarkable life cycle of a beautiful creature that struggles to survive in an increasingly unforgiving environment.
The film is narrated by Academy Award nominee Miranda Richardson, and will be released to theaters in both standard theatrical formats as well as 3D in selected locations.
Turtle: The Incredible Journey opens the same week as SeaWorld San Diego’s Turtle Reef, a new attraction that showcases this extraordinary species in a 300,000-gallon aquarium with a massive underwater viewing gallery. The attraction also features thousands of tropical fish, a touch-screen interactive tracking map where guests can learn about sea turtles and SeaWorld’s rescue efforts. Turtle Reef also includes a new ride that takes guests on a thrilling rescue mission of their own.
Initial theatrical markets set for June 24 include New York, Los Angeles and theaters near three primary SeaWorld locations: San Diego, San Antonio and Orlando. The film’s official premiere is scheduled for Tuesday, June 21 at the large-format 3D theater at SeaWorld in San Diego.
Expansion plans call for the release of the film to additional theaters and cities throughout July and August, with a target of more than 200 locations.
Hannover House has been active in DVD distribution since 2002. The company added theatrical distribution operations last year with the release of the documentary “Racing Dreams” and the thriller “Twelve” to theaters nationwide. During 2011, Hannover House is scheduled to release eight films to theaters in America, with 36 titles slated for home video release.
SeaWorld Pictures was formed in April 2011 to create and distribute original and partner-produced film content that advances the company’s mission to “celebrate, connect and care for the natural world we share through the power of entertainment.” SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, a portfolio company of The Blackstone Group, plays host to 23 million guests each year and employs 20,000 people nationwide. The company, headquartered in Orlando, Fla., owns and operates three SeaWorld parks, Busch Gardens Tampa, Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Va., Discovery Cove and Aquatica in Orlando, Adventure Island in Tampa, Water Country USA in Williamsburg and Sesame Place in Langhorne, Pa. near Philadelphia. Learn more at seaworld.com and seaworld.org.
SEAWORLD PARKS & ENTERTAINMENT
A global leader in animal care and conservation, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment cares for more than 60,000 animals including 200 endangered or threatened species. This commitment to animals benefits animals around the world. The company has rescued more than 18,000 orphaned, injured or ill animals over the past four decades and contributed more than $50 million to conservation, wildlife rescue and environmental stewardship programs worldwide. The SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund — a non-profit, 501(c)3 charitable foundation – supports wildlife research, habitat protection, animal rescue and conservation education in the U.S. and around the world. For more information, visit www.seaworldcares.com.
Commitment to Conserve Endangered and Threatened Sea Turtles
SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment is a global leader in the care and conservation of endangered and threatened sea turtles through worldwide rescue efforts, conservation programs and park educational attractions that inspire millions of guests each year to care for these fragile animals.
SeaWorld’s Rescue Team is on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and has rescued more than 1,500 injured or ill sea turtles over the past three decades. The team recently released its 1,000th rescued sea turtle back to nature, and the parks provide a permanent home to those animals whose injuries are too debilitating to survive in the wild.
On a global scale, the company’s non-profit organization, The SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund also has granted millions of dollars to help numerous endangered species, including $400,000 to programs that specifically tackle sea turtle conservation issues.
Turtle Attractions and Tours that Educate and Inspire
SeaWorld parks offer immersive experiences that bring guests up close to endangered and threatened sea turtles and create a heightened awareness about these fragile animals.
- OPENING JUNE 18: Turtle Reef — SeaWorld San Diego
Opening the same week as Turtle: The Incredible Journey is SeaWorld San Diego’s Turtle Reef, a new attraction that showcases this extraordinary species in a 300,000-gallon aquarium with a massive underwater viewing gallery. The attraction also features a touch-screen interactive tracking map where guests can learn about sea turtles and SeaWorld’s rescue efforts, and a new ride that takes guests on a thrilling rescue mission.
- Turtle Point — SeaWorld Orlando
Guests at SeaWorld Orlando can get up close to endangered and threatened sea turtles at Turtle Point, a naturalistic lagoon and beach habitat. SeaWorld educators share insight on the animals and educate visitors on how they make a difference through everyday actions.
- Behind-the-Scenes Tours
Guests can learn how SeaWorld experts rehabilitate rescued sea turtles through behind-the-scenes educational tours of rescue facilities in Orlando and San Diego parks.
Taking a Stand for Sea Turtles: SeaWorld Says Goodbye to Paper Bags
Plastic bags are a threat to sea turtles because they sometimes mistake the bags for a favorite food, jellyfish. To spread awareness about dangers of plastic pollution, SeaWorld San Diego will discontinue using plastic bags at its gift shops. Starting June 18 to coincide with the debut of the new “Turtle Reef” attraction, the park will offer only paper and reusable sacks. This move will save more than 1 million plastic bags from circulation each year and educate millions of guests.
SeaWorld’s Sea Turtle Rescue Efforts
SeaWorld’s Rescue Team has rescued more than 1,500 endangered or threatened sea turtles over 30 years, including animals ranging from two-inch hatchlings to 320-pound adults. SeaWorld is one of the few organizations with the expertise to treat multiple species of sea turtles at the same time, and has an extraordinary success rate: nearly 70 percent of its rescued turtles have been rehabilitated and returned to the wild. SeaWorld experts have treated animals suffering from cold stress, injuries, ingestion of trash, boat strikes, oil contamination and even bullet wounds.
- SeaWorld’s Largest Turtle Rescue Effort
SeaWorld undertook its biggest rescue effort to date in Florida, saving hundreds of endangered sea turtles that were victims of an unseasonably long and cold winter blast. More than 300 turtles arrived at the park in just a few days with cold shock, a life-threatening condition that can kill the temperature-sensitive animals. Experts immediately warmed up the reptiles with heat lamps, blankets and water. Most of the animals survived and were successfully returned to Florida waters.
- Responding in the Face of Disaster
SeaWorld has responded to numerous significant environmental disasters that threaten wildlife. During the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, SeaWorld set up a large triage area at the park to treat an influx of oil-impacted turtles. More than 125 endangered and threatened sea turtles received extensive care for oil-related health problems and have since been successfully returned to the ocean.
- Innovative Methods: Saving a Jawless Sea Turtle
Caring for injured turtles has inspired several significant innovations, such as teaching a turtle without a lower jaw how to eat. A severely-injured loggerhead sea turtle arrived at SeaWorld Orlando missing its lower jaw and suffering from starvation. Aquarists taught the emaciated animal a new way to eat. The process took months, and the turtle gradually progressed from hand-feedings to independent eating skills. Because she in unable to survive in the wild, the turtle now has a permanent home at SeaWorld Orlando.
The SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund
The non-profit, 501(c)3 charitable foundation SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund supports wildlife research, habitat protection, animal rescue and conservation education around the world. The Fund has granted millions of dollars to help numerous endangered species, including $400,000 to sea turtle conservation programs. One innovative project in the U.S. included funding Florida’s first statewide assessment of beach illumination – from a turtle’s view – that allowed officials to identify trouble spots that could disorient hatchlings.