I want to thank the Amazon Vine Program and the books publisher for making an Advance Readers Copy of this book available to me for review. The book will be released in March 2015. You can pre-order on Amazon or other book sellers at this time.
When you read a book by a "Whistleblower" you aren't sure if you are going to get an informational read or maybe just some angry diatribe by the individual about how the "Corporate World" treated them poorly. So, when I asked for this book to review I was a bit worried about what I would find. I didn't want the angry diatribe.
I was pleased that the book did not just come off as a way for John Hargrove to paint SeaWorld as a terrible monster. Now, with that said it did not let SeaWorld off the hook, it did do a number on their reputation by the disagreements that Hargrove pointed out from his experience.
But the book gives a good history of the work with Orca Whales and how that came about. It also gives a good view of how you become a "trainer" with the whales and the amount of work needed to get to the level of being an "in water" trainer (although OSHA has removed that privilege since 2010). Hargrove gives us a glimpse of his childhood and his dream of becoming a trainer. It gives good insight into the mind set of an individual who wants to work with an 8,000 pound killer whale.
The book describes the training of the trainer as well as the training of the whales. It gives you a glimpse into the personalities of the whales and how they act and re-act to certain situations. It also paints a good picture of how the whales can be unpredictable. It gives several harrowing stories of the tragedy that can happen when a bored whale decides "to play" with a trainer and almost kill that trainer.
There are also the discussions of the perils of a whale in captivity. They become bored. They become lethargic. They become susceptible to infections and disease that can cause their early death. It gives you the true response of a "trainer" who loves his whales when he realizes the trauma to the whales of the captivity. Let's be honest, any human knows that an animal in a zoo or water park is not in their natural environment and that can never be perfect.
Hargrove also gives a good description of the intelligence of these whales. How they watch the trainers, watch other whales and absorb the information around them. They make intelligent decisions, they sometimes make decisions that show they are having a tantrum or are bored and looking for a way to "have fun" in their environment, and that sometimes is at the trainers expense.
I enjoyed the book and thought it did a good job of describing the situation. I wasn't put off by the way Hargrove gave out information that was detrimental to SeaWorld, frankly what he said is just common sense if the average person were to stop and contemplate the problems of keeping a killer whale in captivity.
One thing is clear, these whales are highly intelligent, they are highly social, they have their own cultural hierarchy that keeps them in line and they enjoy interaction with humans (to an extent) and don't inherently desire to hurt humans, and in no way is it their desire to eat a human or kill one because of an inbred animal nature towards that event. These whales are aggressive in the wild, not towards humans but towards their natural prey.
Enjoy the read!