Marine Mammal Care Center Timeline

  • 01/23/2020
  • Terelle Jerricks

1954

When it opened in 1954, Marineland of the Pacific was the world’s largest oceanarium. The park was designed by William Pereira, whose work included the Transamerica Pyramid, the Los Angeles International Airport and the Geisel Library, helped define the architectural look of mid-20th century California. Marineland was best known for its performing orcas or “killer whales.” 

It was also noteworthy for its Baja Reef concept, a first-of-its-kind swim-through aquarium featuring a wide array of sea life. Visitors could enter the winding aquarium wearing a swim mask and snorkel and swim with the fish and sharks. Marineland also contained educational and research facilities in addition to its unique entertainment structures.

Marineland was home to Orky and Corky, two of the most famous orcas on exhibit at any oceanarium at the time. They should not be confused with the original “Orky” and “Corky,” which did not live long in captivity and had no calves. Marineland was also home to the first pilot whales (“Bubbles” and “Bimbo”) ever captured for display, as well as dolphins, sea lions, harbor seals, sharks and a variety of other related sea creatures.

1984

Marine Animal Rescue, Rehabilitation and Release in the Natural Environment or Mar3ine was founded by John Resich, Donald Moore, Don Zumwalt, Kirstie Alley, and Paul Stevenson. This group started off as the Organization for the Respect and Care of Animals of the Sea or ORCAS. 

December 1986 ― February 1987

Marineland was having economic difficulties when Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (owner of the SeaWorld ocean park family) purchased the facility in December 1986. While the company promised to keep Marineland open, its first move was to ship Orky and Corky to SeaWorld’s San Diego park; Corky was renamed “Shamu.” By February 1987, six weeks after the sale was completed, Marineland was closed suddenly and without announcement. The animals were trucked out in the middle of the night and Harcourt Brace Jovanovich poured concrete into the drains so the park could not be reopened. Many local residents complained about the sudden closure.

November 1987

The trainer for Orky and Corky, John Sillick, was seriously injured by the killer whales. He suffered injury to his ribs, pelvis and legs during a November 1987 performance of “Shamu’s Water Symphony” when Orky, performing with four other whales in SeaWorld’s six million gallon pool, breached and landed on Sillick, who was riding on the back of another whale.

A few weeks earlier, trainer Joanne Weber suffered a neck injury. Another trainer was rammed in the chest during a show. Film of the Sillick accident was broadcast on national news programs at the time, triggering an internal investigation into the operations of SeaWorld San Diego. William Jovanovich said a four member investigating committee found that the suspended executives had paid little attention to the strict safety measures he had demanded only six weeks before.

September 1989

Harcourt Brace Jovanovich agrees to pay the costs of operations for a new marine mammal care facility, beginning with the temporary Dockweiler first-aid station, predecessor to the Marine Mammal Care Center that would be built at Fort MacArthur in 1992 in partnership with the Los Angeles Unified School District. SeaWorld also paid the salaries of two full-time employees at the station. This duty was ultimately taken over by ORCAS/Mar3ine. 

That marine mammal care center was founded with $3 million donated by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. Of that $3 million, Harcourt gave Los Angeles Unified more than  $1.2 million to build the marine mammal care center at Fort MacArthur, and $1.7 million in a trust to keep it in operation.

Harcourt subsequently founded the Foundation for Marine Animal Husbandry, a Florida 501(c)(3) organization and used it to funnel money to the Marine Mammal Care Center over the years, with major financial and development support from Mar3ine.

September 2016 

Jeff Cozand founded a new California 501(c)(3) organization, the Marine Mammal Care Center Los Angeles, which assumed management of the rehabilitation hospital and education program. 

November 2019

Jeff Cozad left the Marine Mammal Care Center in dire financial straits. 

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