Rachel #EmptytheTanks founder with @johnjhargrove in Seattle @OrcaSOS #Blackfish #AB2140 pic.twitter.com/hva7hFCF8ITo "land" Shamu, Griffin (working with SeaWorld's Don Goldsberry) harpooned & killed Shamu's mother, delivered the calf to Sea World, and now a billion dollar industry was created. Sea World collectors would go on to capture or kill an additional ~57 Southern Residents (some winding up at other facilities)... a clan that is endangered today.
— OrcaClicktrains (@OrcaClicktrains) March 31, 2015
Fifty years later, on 30 March 2015 and in the wake of the book Death at SeaWorld and Blackfish, John Hargrove, a former SeaWorld trainer with 12 years at the company, visited the birthplace of captivity.
He came to share excerpts from Beneath the Surface, his new book that documents a journey from an enamored young kid driven to work at SeaWorld, to a senior killer whale trainer (at 3 separate facilities) and finally to animal advocate & company whistle-blower.
(Spoiler alert: John's transformation to "extreme activist" in the video below is funny)
It was a sold out venue and John was flanked by Blackfish cast members, SeaShepherds, Orca Network, book authors, doctors, activists, #Superpod4 organizers, whale lovers, one heckler, camera crews and at least one of his attorneys.
|@orcawild & Superpod4 Organizer Jeff Friedman with Beneath the Surface Co-author @JohnJHargrove|
A Weird Twist
At the time of the Seattle event and in an attempt to redirect the topic from captivity to John's character, SeaWorld delivered a disturbing 5 year old video of its former employee, heavily intoxicated, rambling racial epithets, to various media outlets. The intention, as stated by SeaWorld spokesman Fred Jacobs, was to demonstrate the "true" character of John Hargrove and presumably to cripple him as a whistle-blower.
Regarding the leaked video and as stated by Dr Naomi Rose, here:
This video shows nothing about John Hargrove’s character other than that he made a serious mistake while drunk. However, sending it to the media in an effort to discredit a former employee who has published a book critical of corporate practices does show a great deal about SeaWorld’s corporate character. It shows that this company, which has always resorted to the personal attack against its critics instead of engaging on their substantive arguments, has no ethics or morals at all. It will go right down into the mud as it desperately clings to its outdated business model.
“A good indication of the importance of whistleblowers is the way they're being treated."--Noam Chomsky
— Tom Morello (@tmorello) April 1, 2015
This blog wasn't created to defend John or the video he participated in. It was created to share the work that the post-SeaWorld John Hargrove is doing right now. Work that is informing the public and propelling the animal justice movement forward, and work that has SeaWorld scrambling for its very survival.
Great night in Seattle on Monday listening to @johnjhargrove talk about his new book #beaneaththesurface pic.twitter.com/OtOAi4ov63
— Empty The Tanks (@Empty_the_Tanks) April 3, 2015
Keeping our eye on the ball... The video below contains stories of growth, mistakes, humility, learning, laughs, sadness and transformation. It's an evolution that all of us at VOTO have had time to make. And it's a great preview of his book "Beneath the Surface."