Tag Archives: Guest Post

A New Day for SeaWorld: Orca Breeding Program Ends

As an advocate for wildlife conservation and, yes – a passionate advocate for SeaWorld – March 17, 2016 is a big day, and I encourage everyone to truly do their due diligence in reinvestigating how they feel about SeaWorld today. Follow Tania clay blog for more updates.

Here’s what’s happening right now at SeaWorld:

SeaWorld’s orca breeding program officially ends today.  There is one whale, Takara, who’s been pregnant since last year – so, prepare yourselves for the last orca calf birth within SeaWorld’s parks.

Theatrical shows are done. Which is making way for new natural habitat encounters that are being created (but, keep in mind, these take time and don’t happen overnight — you’ll see them first in California later this year, then San Diego, and last in Orlando – in 2019) and these will focus on orca enrichment, exercise and overall health.

SeaWorld partners with Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to further support the changes announced today.


Two years ago, I decided very deliberately to share my stance on SeaWorld with everyone.  I was tired of “living in fear” that someone would have a differing opinion – a lot of people on the internet do, and they let me know it every time I step into the park.  I understand why many have trouble supporting SeaWorld.  I’ve also done my own extensive research to know why I personally choose to stand with SeaWorld, and I can only ask that you respect my opinion as much as I try to respect yours.

The killer whales that are currently in their care, and have been for many years, have mostly all been BORN within the parks — there is NO WAY that any of them could survive in the wild. None. Zilch. Not up for discussion.  “Saving the whales” by “freeing” them into the ocean…is likely certain death for them.  I’m not willing to risk their lives to see if these whales born in captivity can even begin to figure out the wild.  I’m not up for debating this here or now with anyone – we’ve been there/done that.

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However, it is my total and complete belief that WITHOUT SEAWORLD? We – and the very existence of these animals (from killer whale to manatee to sea turtle) – would have been entirely worse off. Likely, without SeaWorld, the Florida Manatee would’ve been wiped off the planet years ago…that’s just for starters.

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And I find it extremely difficult to believe that everyone who’s been calling for their heads was or would’ve been the “activist” that they are for the killer whale without – ironically – SeaWorld themselves.

Because, let’s be real here for a second — no one gave a flying flippity thought about the killer whales (and, in fact, actually FEARED the animal) until SeaWorld stepped in and gave us Shamu. Had SeaWorld NOT put the killer whale infront of us and began educating us about the species people would likely continue to fear this “killer” and never even know what they are – let alone CARE about them. They’d care as much, if not less, about the KILLER whale as they do the blue whale or the beluga whale or the sperm whale….or sharks…or sea turtles…or manatees.

Think what you want of SeaWorld after watching one piece of propaganda that was set out with the intention of destroying every single thing this company does, both good and bad. Admittedly, I agree, many of these changes were necessary and I’m happy to see them come to fruition.  That being said, I do not believe that the total destruction of the predominant resource that helps to rescue/rehab and conserve these animals all over the world was – or is – warranted. Keep in mind, SeaWorld is not only accredited through various high level organizations globally – they’re also regulated by federal & state agencies too.  SeaWorld is not the only authority involved in these animal’s care, rehab, and conservation.

Having SeaWorld in my backyard here in Orlando, growing up supporting them, and WITNESSING THEM being the first on many calls throughout the year to help save just about any animal that needs them – has me solidly on Team SeaWorld. They are, after all, the very reason I became fascinated with these animals back in the 80s as a kid from New Jersey who never knew much more than what a garden snake or a duck in the pond at the park looked like outside of what was in books.  Now, some 30-odd years later, my friends will tell you that I’m a fierce lover of all animals, but in particular those of the marine sort.  Why?  SeaWorld.

My hope now, after today especially, is that more people begin to reconsider their stance on SeaWorld, that you at least take another hardcore look and are open to the changes that are happening — because without SeaWorld and without our support in SeaWorld and all the GOOD that they do provide? You could bet your bottom dollar that a lot of these animals cease to exist.

SeaWorld needs money and resources to make things happen – from their rescue and rehab programs, to the new changes they’re working to put in place, and the continuation in the level of care that these animals ARE in fact receiveing. Which is likely better than you & I receive any time we go to the doctor…they need us, as much as we need them.

Editor’s Note: Central Florida Top 5 encourages everyone to visit SeaWorldCares.com/Future to learn more about Sea World’s current efforts and plans for the future. 

SeaWorld announced that it is phasing out current killer whale theatrical shows and replacing with new, inspiring, natural orca encounters as part of its ongoing commitment to education, marine science research, and rescue of marine animals. These programs will focus on orca enrichment, exercise, and overall health and will start in its San Diego park next year, followed by San Antonio and then Orlando in 2019. Artist Rendering 2016 ©SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment

SeaWorld announced that it is phasing out current killer whale theatrical shows and replacing with new, inspiring, natural orca encounters as part of its ongoing commitment to education, marine science research, and rescue of marine animals. These programs will focus on orca enrichment, exercise, and overall health and will start in its San Diego park next year, followed by San Antonio and then Orlando in 2019. Artist Rendering

2016 ©SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment

Top 5 | Best Veggie Burgers in Orlando!

Guest post by: Anna-Marie Walsh

Hip burger joints are becoming all the rage. Farm raised, grass fed, farm to table? These are culinary terms we hadn’t heard of just a few years ago. As a Vegetarian, are all these new burger joints a bad thing? Not necessarily. Back in the day, we may have visited a burger joint with our carnivore friends and if we were lucky, the restaurant maybe offered a larger house salad for us – a big bowl of lettuce with a tomato and some vinaigrette.

Slowly over time, restaurateurs began to realize that we Vegetarians have money to spend as well. Many places began to offer us a Boca Burger. You know the Boca Burger, that red carton we can buy at the grocery store and pay $4 for a box of 12 patties. Restaurants offered to serve us a Boca burger and dress it up with some lettuce and tomato for $10 a pop. You know, at least it was something. At least an effort was being made to feed Vegetarians something other than a house salad. Even Burger King began to offer a veggie burger.

Fast forward to now. Orlando is a foodie town, it’s a place where you can find not only food in restaurants but also in modified and equipped Second Hand Trailers all around. Diners now expect fresh ingredients, inventive recipes and reasonable prices. Even us Vegetarians. We no longer find it satisfying to overpay for frozen mass produced patties. And once again, restaurateurs are listening. Quaint little burger joints are opening all over Orlando and many are offering amazing alternatives to the beef patty for Vegetarians.

Here is a list of my favorite homemade (not frozen) Veggie Burgers in Orlando:

5. BurgerFi
There are 5 Orlando area locations with more on the way. The music is loud, but the onion rings are enormous and the veggie burgers are messy but hand made. The burger is hearty, a quinoa-based patty served with cheese, lettuce, tomato and their special BurgerFi mayo-based sauce. As with most of the places on this list, any of the burger combinations offered on the menu can be made with the veggie burger patty.

4. Hillstone
Hillstone is located in Winter Park, has a great patio for watching sunsets and the most delicious kale salad ever. They also serve an incredible veggie burger made with black eyed peas. Well worth the higher price and the sometimes long wait. Even better if you order an extra side of coleslaw and add a little to the burger.

3. Toasted

Viva La Vegan at Toasted

Viva La Vegan at Toasted

Toasted is known for serving up some comforting grilled cheese sandwiches in Winter Park. I bet you didn?t know this is a wonderful destination for Vegans as well as Vegetarians. There is an entire menu of Vegan options including dairy-free grilled cheese sandwiches and a hand crafted Veggie burger. While there are three versions of their Veggie burger, the most popular is the Viva La Vegan- a Vegan patty topped with tomato chutney and arugula. An absolute delight.

2. B&B Junction
B&B Junction took over the original 4 Rivers location on Fairbanks on Aloma in Winter Park. They have amazing fried pickles. They also have a very expansive burger menu, any of which can be made with their house made Veggie patty. The only ingredients I could get out of the staff is that the veggie patty is made with lentils, black-eyed peas, pumpkin and other spices. I?m pretty sure I was tasting a little cumin and cayenne pepper in there. The fried fennel and watermelon-jicama slaw are very tasty toppings to their veggie patty.

1. That One Spot

Greek Spinach Burger at That One Spot

Greek Spinach Burger at That One Spot

Located on the west side of town, That One Spot sits unassuming in a strip mall near the Twistee Treat in Ocoee. That One Spot offers two Vegetarian options- the black bean patty or my favorite- the spinach patty. The Greek Veggie Burger is delicious with spinach patties, herbed Greek yogurt, Feta cheese, red peppers, sprouts and red onions. However, don?t pass up the opportunity to try the Crunch Burger with the spinach patty. Horseradish sauce, lettuce, tomato, fried onions, blue cheese crumbles and potato chips make this a Heavenly spot for any Vegetarian.

My quest for the best Veggie burger in Orlando doesn’t end here. There are so many new places constantly opening up here that my work will never be done. Veg on my friend and eat your veggies.


Anna-Marie Walsh from The Hungry Sprout!

Anna-Marie Walsh from The Hungry Sprout!

About the author: Anna-Marie is the writer of The Hungry Sprout, a website about Orlando restaurants and events. A self-proclaimed brussel sprout and broccoli junkie, she is also the author of the Beauty and the Beets website, where she focuses on healthy Vegan, Vegetarian and Pescatarian cuisine, as well as travel. As a former Flight Attendant for a major airline, Anna-Marie has traveled all over the world and cites fondue in Switzerland as one of her favorite meals. She is always continuing her quest to find the best Veggie burger, whether it be overseas or in the United States.

Guest Post: Valentine’s Day (for Singles) in Central Florida

Full disclosure: I’m single this Valentine’s Day … and I couldn’t be happier. In fact, I was last year, too — and it was the best Valentine’s Day I’ve had in years. Let me explain why.

I had a Valentine for eight years back-to-back — and while they were three different guys (all great in their own “unique” way, of course), the result was often the same. Most recently: We booked a “couples massage” — romantic, right? (Totally my idea.) And it would’ve been great, too, had we not spent the time before it arguing about how I wasn’t “allowed” to have a male masseuse. Year before that, I received a “gold dipped rose” which was promptly donated to a pawn shop following the break up. And my favorite … the year that was spent with three other couples in a cramped bedroom of a fraternity house, gathered around a makeshift dinner table eating penne alla vodka — made with literally a handle of Popov vodka.

But, before you judge me and call me a cynic for feeling this way on the most romantic holiday of the year, let me say that I’m not necessarily hating on those that are happily in a relationship and spending the evening together. Instead, my point here is to shed some light on the fact that you don’t need a “better half” to enjoy the day. Spend the night celebrating that you’re a better whole on your own.

Last year, I made spur of the moment plans with two of my best friends. Our night included sake bombs, Chinese take out and an impromptu dance party in my living room at 3 a.m. Needless to say, it was a night I’ll always remember.

Valentine’s Day holds the same cache of New Year’s Eve. So much pressure is put on what you’re going to do, that often times, the reality never quite lives up to the dream. (And if it does — hold on to your man/woman, because you’re lucky.)

So if you’re like me … and you’ll be trading in lovers for friends … and chocolate for beer, here are a few ideas of pro-single activities in Orlando this Valentine’s Day:

  • Get free beer with the purchase of an entree at Tijuana Flats. (They’re calling it “Smack my @$$, I’m single.”)
  • Head to Hamburger Mary’s for Tuesday BINGO with Miss Sammy and Carol Lee for guaranteed laughs. (I’ve never been to BINGO here, but trivia night never disappoints.)
  • Head to a dive bar (may I suggest my favorite: PR’s Taco Palace) and treat the night like any other. Bonus at PR’s: reduced price tequila shots when the train passes.
  • Book a manicure/pedicure at your favorite salon for you and some friends.
  • Wait and celebrate tomorrow at the Enzian with My Bloody Valentine on the lawn.

And don’t forget that when it comes down to it … Valentine’s Day is a holiday about spreading love — whether that’s love between you and your significant other, best friends or family. No gold dipped roses or Popov pasta necessary (or suggested, for that matter).

All my single ladies (and gentlemen!) … how are you spending February 14 this year? Tell us in the comments.

Jenni is a single girl living in Central Florida — but don’t let her fool you, she actually loves love … today she just loves her best friends and sarcasm a little more. Ask her out on a date Connect with her on Twitter at @jenniizzo.