ORLANDO (CBS4) – SeaWorld Orlando is set to open a new rehabilitation facility for wild dolphins and whales that wash ashore but the decision to open the facility is drawing some criticism.

Officials at the marine park say the project is part of its long-standing commitment to conservation, research, rescue and rehab.

The facility’s 40,000-gallon pool could hold up to five bottlenose dolphins at once — or a 13-foot pilot whale. By law, animals recovering in the facility cannot be displayed in public. To avoid the spread of diseases, visitors to the rehab complex will be completely isolated from SeaWorld’s captive populations.

It could open within weeks, pending final approval from the government.

Some animal rights activists say this is a way for SeaWorld to add more whales and dolphins to its captive populations, a charge that the park denies.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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