ORLANDO, FL—Noting that the show had simply appeared on the park’s schedule last week without an announcement or fanfare of any kind, visitors to SeaWorld told reporters Thursday that the theme park’s latest attraction consists solely of an elephant drowning in a large tank of water with no explanation.
The most recent addition to the amusement park’s slate of entertainment—listed on brochures and signs simply as “Elephant Drowning”—reportedly features an adult African elephant that is led out by trainers into the main amphitheater, where it is immediately shoved into a 36-foot-deep aquarium and left to slowly die, all without the music, lighting cues, or narration that typically accompany other SeaWorld shows.
“After they pushed it into the pool, it swam around for a little while, which was cool because I didn’t even know elephants could swim, but then it started really struggling to keep its head above water,” said visitor Katie Hayes, 32, who attended the 1 p.m. Elephant Drowning performance with her family after seeing a sign advertising the show simply as “SeaWorld’s Newest Experience.” “My kids were cheering for it at first, and we all thought it might do some tricks or something. But it just sort of thrashed around the whole time, trying to get out of there.”
“And then it drowned,” Hayes added.
“Our new show offers the same first-rate entertainment you’ve come to expect from SeaWorld, and it’s sure to be a huge hit with guests of all ages.”
Other guests who attended the same performance reported that they were left confused when the handlers appeared unannounced, silently forced the full-grown elephant into the tank, and then walked out through the backstage door, all without saying a word or acknowledging the audience in any way. Additionally, many said they were expecting someone to come on over the loudspeaker and tell them what was occurring, or at least mention the elephant’s name, but noted that no one ever did.
Over the course of the half-hour show, the 12,000-pound animal reportedly grew increasingly panicked, making numerous futile attempts to scramble up and over the vertical sides of the enclosure. Sources said the clapping and whistling from the audience slowly tapered off as the exhausted elephant made gradually slower circuits of the tank’s perimeter in a desperate search of any possible exit point it could use to save itself.
“It tried to smash through the side of the tank with its tusks at one point, which is when I thought some dolphins or an orca might come swimming out of the gate and help push the elephant to safety, which would have been incredible—but nope,” said SeaWorld guest Erika Morganstern, 22, who suspected that the tank walls had been heavily reinforced, given the animal’s continuous, ultimately ineffectual efforts to throw its enormous bulk against the glass. “Eventually, the elephant started making these crazy sorts of gurgling, trumpeting noises that got quieter and quieter before they stopped completely.”
“I really wasn’t sure what to expect when I saw this show on the schedule,” she added. “But, yeah, it was pretty much just an elephant drowning.”
Visitors said that following some violent, last-ditch floundering, the huge mammal at last became too worn out to continue treading water and succumbed. Guests watching the show from the underwater viewing area confirmed seeing the elephant drift slowly to the bottom of the tank, where it came to rest in a heap, its body reportedly shifting back and forth slightly due to the turbulence created by its prior struggling.
“No one really told us when the show was over,” said season-pass holder Mariam O’Neill, 57. “After the elephant didn’t move for a while, people got up and started leaving. A few people stuck around for the Clyde & Seamore’s Sea Lion High show, which was coming up next.”
According to sources, the Elephant Drowning attraction has been well-attended since its introduction earlier this month, with the Saturday afternoon show in particular, which reportedly features both a mother elephant and her calf, regularly filling to capacity.
When reached for comment, SeaWorld representatives confirmed to reporters that their newest aquatic presentation consists entirely of an elephant drowning in a large tank of water and that it takes place in Shamu Stadium at the times listed on the park’s website.
“SeaWorld is proud to bring a brand-new attraction to its visitors,” company representative Nancy Klemmer said. “Our new show offers the same first-rate entertainment you’ve come to expect from SeaWorld, and it’s sure to be a huge hit with guests of all ages.”
“Plus, the elephants absolutely love it,” Klemmer added.