I have been reading this book for a while. It took me some time because it was very difficult for me to read. It wasn't difficult because of the writing style, to the contrary, I found it extremely well written. No, rather it was difficult because of the subject matter and I could only go so far at one time.
I know that SeaWorld was quite upset with this book, even going so far as to release decades old video of the author without his consent in an attempt to discredit him. All that aside, I believe that John Hargrove went out of his way to be honest and fair. This isn't a bash SeaWorld book but rather a real discussion on exactly what happens to Orcas in captivity and why.
The book starts off with a starry -eyed young man who dreams of whales. Oh how I could relate! I've always dreamt of whales and loved them, from the time I was a child. Seeing them is like magic that every person, I believed, could experience. Even as a child though, deep in my heart of hearts, I knew that being able to experience that magic wasn't right, that what brought me so much joy, brought them so much sadness.
John discusses in detail what it was like to be a trainer -the background necessary, the tests and education you had to have, the experiences. It was very eye opening. I loved how he talked about every interaction between whale and trainer had to be documented at SeaWorld - a practice that he believed and stated promoted safety for both parties. But the other things - the food deprivation, the processes of artificial insemination, the boredom of those poor whales. It was all just so horrific.
I know and have always know that Orcas are simply too big, too socially complex and much too intelligent to be held in captivity. I know it's right to empty the tanks. If you doubt any of that, this book truly is an honest evaluation of the treatment of Orcas by SeaWorld. Read it and judge for yourself. 5 out of 5 stars.