SeaWorld Orlando is growing multiple ways this summer, with both the animals and the park bringing new additions into the world. With the Florida theme park wars raging, it seems everyone is pitching in at expanding this great marine park.
Construction continues on Anatarctica: Empire of the Penguin, the next new attraction after this year's Turtle Trek.
It's supposed to be an ambitious new combination of ride, animal habitat, restaurant, and shopping, and seems to be utilizing some of the former penguin habitat's building structure.
They're currently erecting even more of the new buildings, but everything seems to be mostly basic framework still.
It's obvious there is a ton of work left to go, which makes the projected Spring 2013 completion goal surprising. This is supposed to be SeaWorld's new marquee attraction, so hopefully they don't rush it too much to try and meet deadlines. I will be quite happy to see the penguins back out from cold storage again, however.
In less chilly news, currently there are six Sea Lion pups swimming about the Pacific Point Preserve habitat. Some, like this sleepy critter, are young enough that they're still sticking to mom's side.
Others are a bit more grown and already exploring their new home. These little guys have a lot of personality and can be spotted darting around rocky crevices and other areas where only they can fit. They tend to avoid some of the larger sea lions and seals, so the best place to spot them is around the back of the habitat, further away from the feeding station where most of the crowd congregates.
SeaWorld Orlando's dolphins are also producing some babies, with the Dolphin Nursery featuring both new arrivals and growing adolescents. These slippery youngsters are a bit difficult to catch on camera, but watch the water closely to see the littlest of them clinging to mom's side as they swim about the pool.
Finally, on a bit of a personal note, I achieved the longstanding goal of meeting one of my favorite animals, the capybara. These cousins of the guinea pig are the world's largest rodents, and can be spotted in the Sea Garden as part of the Animal Connections encounters. I'll have more to say about both Animal Connections and capybaras later, but I couldn't help myself from showing off a couple images of this amazing creature.