SeaWorld Releases Video Showing Critic Being Drunk And Racist

PETA protests against Sea World last summer in downtown San Antonio. - PEOPLE FOR THE ETHICAL TREATMENT OF ANIMALS.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
PETA protests against Sea World last summer in downtown San Antonio.

Well, SeaWorld just released a five-year-old cellphone video of a former employee featured in the documentary Blackfish using racial slurs in a drunken rant. 

The documentary, which features orca trainer John Hargrove, resulted in a financial hit to SeaWorld when stock prices dropped and park attendance diminished. In December, SeaWorld’s Chief Executive Officer and President Jim Atchison resigned.

Gawker published the video Monday. 

The Orlando Sentinel has a full report on the video SeaWorld released. Here's an excerpt:

Hargrove on Tuesday disputed the company's portrayal of his departure and accused SeaWorld of conducting a smear campaign against him.

"They're going to pull out everything they can, drag up any dirt they can on me to make me look like this awful person," he said. "What's so amazing, they're not addressing the issues at hand. This is about killer whales in captivity."

SeaWorld spokesman Fred Jacobs said the company received the video of Hargrove during the weekend "from an internal whistle-blower." It shows Hargrove sitting at a table with a glass of wine — "I've been drinking so much," he says at one point — laughing and talking with a woman on a cellphone about an incident in which a group of black men apparently threw a rock at her. He repeatedly uses the n-word in the video and tries to get the woman to admit she did the same during the incident. 

Meanwhile, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals President Ingrid E. Newkirk sent a letter to the company's new CEO urging change by incorporating coastal sanctuaries, virtual-reality displays and other animal-friendly innovations.

Here's the letter:

Joel Manby, CEO

SeaWorld Entertainment

Dear Mr. Manby:

I am writing on behalf of PETA and our more than 3 million members and supporters with an appeal. As you well know, consumers are more aware than ever that SeaWorld's tanks are detrimental to sensitive, complex animals such as orcas, and people everywhere are now calling for an end to marine-mammal confinement. As you take over as CEO, you have an opportunity to take SeaWorld in a new direction—not just to try to continue with the old-fashioned marine-mammal shows but to create something truly innovative, exciting, and new.

With Ringling's recent announcement that it will phase out its elephant acts because of a change in public views, it is absolutely clear that the public is ready for a change—particularly Millennials, the next generation of parents. There is no doubt that marine-mammal confinement is coming to an end. The only question is whether SeaWorld will realize that before it's too late to change with the marketplace.

In your book Love Works: Seven Timeless Principles for Effective Leaders, you wrote, "[W]e achieve profits by doing the right thing for customers and employees; profits are not an end in themselves. Profits are a product of doing the right thing—over and over again." Please do the right thing here: Use your new position to build coastal sanctuaries and immersive virtual-reality exhibits or animatronics to give both the public and the orcas what they want and deserve. Be bold!

You must know that orcas belong in the ocean, not in small concrete tanks, swimming in endless circles for years. Show compassion for the animals trapped in SeaWorld's tanks by announcing an end to cruel captivity at SeaWorld and immediately funding the creation of coastal sanctuaries where orcas can spend the remainder of their lives in as natural a setting as possible. We would support that in every way possible.

Very truly yours,

Ingrid E. Newkirk

About The Author

Scroll to read more San Antonio News articles
Join the San Antonio Current Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.


Join SA Current Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.