Photo essay: How SeaWorld Abu Dhabi performers prepare for daily shows

Actors dress up as animals, apply make-up and entertain crowds at the Yas theme park

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SeaWorld Abu Dhabi's stage performers begin their days early before the marine life theme park opens to the public.

They arrive at around 8am and pick up their animal costumes, carefully carrying them to the green room before a warm-up and stretches to get into character.

“We then head over again to the green room and do our own make-up, get dressed and ready ourselves to get in the Canopy Climbers’ character, which is inspired by jungle animals, scampering from tree to tree and playing around together,” says Leigh Xuereb, the park's entertainment director, tells The National.

Some characters that can be spotted include cotton-top tamarins, jaguars and sloths. As the performers frolic around and entertain guests with four shows daily, one of the toughest things is the physical demands of the job, Xuereb says.

“The most challenging part about being a performer is staying physically fit and strong to be able to perform day in and day out, all while wearing make-up and a costume,” he adds.

“Additionally, eating healthy and getting the appropriate recovery time is as equally important to maintain consistency and to limit injuries.”

After shows end, the performers hold meet-and-greets with visitors and are available for photographs with families and children. It is this type of interaction that makes the job worthwhile.

“For any performer, the most rewarding part is performing in front of a live audience and seeing the reaction and amazement on their faces, especially with the younger guests,” he says.

“The applause and recognition at the end of each performance makes it all the more gratifying an experience for us. It always feels good to contribute to making the guests’ experience at SeaWorld Abu Dhabi as memorable as possible.”

What to expect inside SeaWorld Abu Dhabi

The marine life theme park on Yas Island opened in May last year. It is the first SeaWorld outside of North America, spans 18.3 hectares and occupies five floors. There are eight thematic sections: One Ocean, Abu Dhabi Ocean, Rocky Point, MicroOcean, Tropical Ocean, Arctic, Antarctica and Endless Ocean.

It includes rides, interactive exhibits and the region's largest multi-species aquarium, with more than 58 million litres of water and animals such as sharks, manta rays and sea turtles, plus reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates.

The attraction also has Yas Seaworld Research & Rescue Centre, a research complex created with a focus on marine conservation and education. It opened last February.

SeaWorld Abu Dhabi was developed by Miral, which is also behind other theme parks on Yas Island, such as Ferrari World, Warner Bros World and Yas Waterworld.

Updated: February 24, 2024, 8:10 AM