In what can be considered nothing less than a striking coincidence, SeaWorld’s ‘Ask SeaWorld campaign’ launched just a day before the release of former Sea World employee John Hargrove’s explosive whistle-blower tale of animal cruelty at SeaWorld.
The Ask SeaWorld campaign was released on March 23 and is being executed through T.V. commercials, print advertisements and recorded video conversations with veterinarians and long time trainers that have expressed their stamp of approval upon the practices being followed at SeaWorld regarding the treatment and training of Orcas (Sea Whales). The purpose of the Ask SeaWorld campaign is to influence public perception of SeaWorld’s care of its sea animals. Members of the public are invited to post questions to SeaWorld to know more about the practices and drills that the company follows regarding the treatment of its animals.
Dramatically, just the day after, i.e., on 24th March, long time employee at SeaWorld, John Hargrove released his tell-all book, “Beneath the Surface: Killer Whales, SeaWorld, and the Truth Beyond Blackfish”. As a mere speculation, it can be surmised SeaWorld may have come to know of Hargrove’s intended release and therefore planned a damage control exercise through launching an awareness program in advance.
Hargrove’s book reveals the inhumane practices that were followed at SeaWorld regarding Orcas. Hargrove was driven to writing this book after the deaths of two of Hargrove’s friends and other fellow trainers. Rising aggression in the whales due to poor treatment and smaller pens was speculated as a reason behind the whales killing those men. Hargrove also detailed how the company’s decision to strip away young calves from their mothers broke his heart. He was also disenchanted with the justifications offered by the company to wean calves away.
Hargrove writes, “They’d say it has to be this way and this is the reason why, and you’d truly believe it; then they’d change their story.” The constantly changing protocols that were modified to suit the company’s interests than the interests of the Orcas sealed it for Hargrove who was convinced that the treatment of whales at SeaWorld was “not normal, not right”. So in August, 2012, he decided to pen this book.
As a counter, SeaWorld has accused Hargrove of sensationalism and the organization has completely denied the allegations made in his book. SeaWorld did accept that they do transfer whales between parks, but the same is done to maintain a healthy social community. Despite such denials, Hargrove remains insistent on the revelations in his book.
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