SeaWorld and Coca-Cola have announced a joint donation in partnership with the Everglades Foundation to support freshwater replenishment project with Audubon Florida.

The $100,000, privately funded joint partnership will provide critical aid and investment for conservation efforts where public funding has historically fallen short. The partners will help replenish an estimated 141 million liters of water in the Western Everglades at Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary in Naples, Fla. This will include the mechanical removal of 100 acres of invasive Carolina willow to be replaced with native sawgrass in the sanctuary, which will improve downstream water flow and onsite recharge, as well as improve access for foraging wading birds.

“We’re glad to partner with conservation-minded organizations like SeaWorld and Coca-Cola, who share our mission for maintaining the vital freshwater ecosystems that many birds and wildlife need,” said Jason Lauritsen, sanctuary director at Audubon’s Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. “The completion of the project later this year will combat the drying trend we’ve seen in the herbaceous marshes and cypress forests during the last two decades, which has ecological ripple effects that are felt far beyond the Sanctuary.”  

Jon Radtke, Coca-Cola’s chief hydrogeologist, added, “Water is essential to our business and to the communities we serve. That is why we are working to replenish 100 percent of the water we use in our beverages and return it to nature- a goal we first achieved in 2015. We’re excited to partner with like-minded organizations to help improve the availability of freshwater for public supply and recharge local aquifers.”

Everglades

Leaders from SeaWorld and Coca-Cola helped kick off the project last month by traveling to the Naples sanctuary. The group planted beneficial sawgrass, which is native to America’s Everglades and helps support the area’s biological diversity.

Ahead of the summer opening of SeaWorld Orlando’s first freshwater-themed attraction, Infinity Falls,

the project supports SeaWorld’s commitment to conserving freshwater ecosystems, and to providing its park guests with meaningful experiences.

“While SeaWorld is traditionally known for its ocean conservation efforts, we recognize the importance of the delicate freshwater ecosystems that feed into our oceans, and the need to educate our guests about this intricate connection,” said John Reilly, CEO, SeaWorld Entertainment. “Our mission with Infinity Falls is to look beyond the sea and share with our guests an experience that’s inspired by our conservation work with important partners like Coca-Cola, Audubon Florida and the Everglades Foundation.” 

When it opens this summer, Infinity Falls will feature roaring rapids, soaking fountains and a record-setting 40-ft. waterfall drop, all against the backdrop of a rainforest utopia. Guests can take on the role of a conservationist on a journey through the rainforest and learn about the importance of freshwater conservation through interactive games and stories throughout the ride.

Since 2016, SeaWorld Entertainment has invested in the Everglades Literacy program, which provides K-12 educators with the curriculum and tools to educate young Floridians about the ecological and economic impact of the ecosystem and why saving this national treasure is important to the all Floridians and the animals and plants that call it home. More than 1,500 teachers have completed the coursework and are implementing the program in their classrooms, reaching approximately 60,000 students, to date.

Guests to Infinity Falls will have the opportunity to support the literacy program when they purchase Infinity Falls merchandise, as SeaWorld will donate 5 percent of net proceeds to the initiative.

“The restoration and protection of the Everglades is vital to Florida, as one out of every three Floridians – more than 8 million people – rely on this national treasure for their daily water supply,” said Eric Eikenberg, CEO, Everglades Foundation. “This partnership with SeaWorld and Coca-Cola means we can continue to preserve America’s Everglades for generations to come.”