Beneath the Surface: Killer Whales, SeaWorld, and the Truth Beyond
by John Hargrove , with Howard Chua-Eoan
Palgrave Macmillan*, 2015 ($26)
Since his first visit to SeaWorld as a young boy, Hargrove dreamed of working with orcas. Eventually he got his wish and became a senior trainer there, caring for killer whales over 14 years. As Hargrove's love for and knowledge of the creatures increased, however, he gradually concluded that the work he was part of at SeaWorld was harming them and was unacceptably dangerous to himself and the other human trainers. Orcas are too big and too intelligent to be kept in captivity, Hargrove argues, and he came to see the daily “Shamu Stadium” shows where the whales perform tricks as “part of a rapacious corporate scheme that exploited both the orcas and their human trainers.” He resigned from SeaWorld in 2012 and appeared in the documentary Blackfish, which criticized the park's practices after its trainer Dawn Brancheau was killed by a whale in 2010. Here Hargrove covers both the joy of his own experiences with orcas as well as the case for why such interactions in captivity should end.
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