UPAC Youth SeaWorld SD Trip

August, 2016:  UPAC Youth Group Learns About Animal Care and Rescue at SeaWorld San Diego

A group of 30 at-risk adolescents and their families from San Diego visited SeaWorld San Diego on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2016 for a special behind-the-scenes look at how animal care specialists and trainers care for the park’s animal ambassadors.

The visit was coordinated with the Union of Pan Asian Communities (UPAC) through their Alliance for Community Empowerment (ACE) Program. The organization has a very unique thread to SeaWorld: Keith Yip, the park’s curator of mammals, is the son of Beverly Yip, the founding executive director of UPAC.


Keith Yip, SeaWorld San Diego’s curator of mammals, addresses a group of 30 youth and their families from UPAC.

“When Mom started the organization more than 40 years ago, she was committed to providing San Diego’s Asian communities opportunities to grow and learn,” said Yip, who’s been with the park for more than 30 years. “I cannot be more ecstatic to have these incredible youth here at SeaWorld and see firsthand that if working with animals or pursuing a career in marine biology is something they’re interested in, they can achieve it.”


Animal care specialist Hannah Webster Heublein shares animal information with UPAC youth.


Rescue Team member Jorge Villa shows debris found on rescued animals as a result of human activity.

The group went on a behind-the-scenes tour of the park’s Animal Care area where they fed and interacted with bottlenose dolphins, and learned more about SeaWorld’s Rescue Program. They also watched the educational presentation, Killer Whales: Up Close and the Dolphin Days show. Killer whale and dolphin trainers took the time to chat with the group to provide insight on animal training.

“For almost all our youth, this was their very first time to visit SeaWorld,” said Dante Dauz, ACE’s program supervisor. “We are very proud and honored to work with the youth and families we serve, and they are all remarkable in their resiliency and their dedication to overcome very difficult challenges they face every day.”

“We are always excited to offer them events like this that can help make their day a little brighter,” he added.