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Ex-SeaWorld Trainer Responds To Video Of Him Using Racial Slurs

Ex-SeaWorld Trainer Responds To Video Of Him Using Racial Slurs
"Beneath the Surface" author on his book and a video that caused the cancellation of an appearance in San Diego GUEST:John Hargrove, author, "Beneath the Surface"

OUR TOP STORY ON MIDDAY EDITION, THE RELEASE OF A NEW BOOK IS TURNING INTO A BATTLE ROYALE BETWEEN SEAWORLD AND ONE OF ITS FORMER SENIOR KILLER WHALE TRAINERS. JOHN HARGROVE WHO IS FEATURED PROMINENTLY IN THE DOCUMENTARY BLACKFISH IS OUT WITH A NEW BOOK THAT ACCUSES SEAWORLD OF ABUSING ITS KILLER WHALES. IN RESPONSE, THE VICE PRESIDENT OF COMMUNICATIONS FOR ALL OF THE SEAWORLD ENTERTAINMENT PARKS HAS RELEASED A FIVE-YEAR-OLD VIDEO OF JOHN HARGROVE INTOXICATED AND REPEATEDLY USING RACIAL EPITHETS. SINCE THE RELEASE OF THE VIDEO YESTERDAY, WHAT WORKS BOOKSTORE IN SAN DIEGO HAS CANCELED A SCHEDULED APPEARANCE BY JOHN HARGROVE. HE'S AGREED TO JOIN US BY PHONE FROM SYMPHYSIS GO. THE NAME OF THE BOOK IS BENEATH THE SURFACE, KILLER WHALES SEAWORLD AND THE TRUTH BEYOND BLACKFISH. WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM, JOHN. ________________________________________ HIGH, MAUREEN. THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME ON ________________________________________ WE INVITED A SEAWORLD REPRESENTATIVE TO JOIN US TO TAKE PART OF THIS CONVERSATION. THEY DID SEND US THE DEFAMATORY VIDEO WHICH WE LINK TO ON OUR WEBSITE AT KPBS INVITED A SEAWORLD REPRESENTATIVE TO JOIN US TO TAKE PART OF THIS CONVERSATION. THEY DID SEND US THE DEFAMATORY VIDEO WHICH WE LINK TO ON OUR WEBSITE@TRAN1.ORG BUT NO FURTHER RESPONSE FROM CORPORATE OR FROM SAN DIEGO SEAWORLD OFFICIALS. ________________________________________ JOHN, LET'S TALK FIRST ABOUT THIS VIDEO OF YOU BEING -- IT IS BEING CIRCULATED BY SEAWORLD. FIRST OF ALL, DO YOU MET THAT IT IS UBC IN THIS VIDEO ? ________________________________________ YES, IT IS DEFINITELY ME IN THE VIDEO. ________________________________________ WHAT WE SEE IS YOU ON A CELL PHONE OBVIOUSLY INTOXICATED AND YOU REPEATEDLY USE THE WORD -- AND WORD TO DESCRIBE A GROUP OF YOUNG BLACK MEN. THIS IS DEFINITELY GOING TO DISCREDIT YOU AND WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY IN THE EYES OF MANY PEOPLE. SO HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THAT ? ________________________________________ I HOPE IT DOESN'T AND I DON'T THINK IT WILL. FOR THE PEOPLE THAT TRULY KNOW ME AND KNOW THIS MESSAGE AND WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO ACHIEVE. CERTAINLY, IT IS OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE AND IT SHOULD HAVE NEVER BEEN USED. IF WE COULD ALL GO BACK IN TIME AND CHANGE THE STUPID THINGS THAT WE SAID OR DID WHEN WE HAD TOO MUCH TO DRINK, I THINK THAT WE WOULD ALL SAY IT IS AN IDEAL SITUATION. WHEN I LOOK BACK, FIRST OF ALL, I WAS SO HEAVILY INTOXICATED FROM THAT NIGHT, THE NIGHT THAT THAT HAPPENED, I BARELY RECALL ANY EVENTS CERTAINLY, FIVE YEARS LATER, I RECALL EVEN LESS BUT I WATCHED IT, OF COURSE. CERTAINLY, I KNOW THAT WAS ME AND WATCHING IT MYSELF, I CRINGED WHEN I WOULD HEAR MYSELF SAY THESE THINGS. IT'S NOT -- IT'S JUST SIMPLY NO DANCING AROUND IT. THAT IS NOT A THEY SHOULD BE USED IF YOU JUST DON'T USE THAT WORD. YOU DON'T USE IT WHEN YOU WANT ANGRY, YOU DON'T USE IT WHEN YOU ARE INTOXICATED, AND OF NOXIOUS AND YOU THINK YOU'RE BEING FUNNY BECAUSE YOU ARE NOT BEING FUNNY PIC YOU JUST DON'T USE THAT WORD. SO I REGRETTED. I WISH THAT THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN. BUT, WHAT IS MORE SHOCKING ABOUT IT IS THAT SEAWORLD WOULD PUSH THE VIDEO OUT TO THE MEDIA OUTLETS WHEN IT HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO -- A FIVE-YEAR-OLD VIDEO THAT HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH MY BOOK, THE CONTENT OF MY BOOK, MY CAREER AS A KILLER WHALE TRAINER, IT WAS JUST AN ATTEMPT TO SMEAR ME, SMEAR CAMPAIGN AND TO ATTACK MY CREDIBILITY . ________________________________________ LET ME STOP YOU THERE FOR A MINUTE. BECAUSE YOU CHARACTERIZE THE USE OF THE WORD AND STUPID. THIS IS MORE THAN STUPID LANGUAGE, JOHN. IT'S RACIST LANGUAGE. ARE YOU A RACIST ? ________________________________________ NO, DEFINITELY NOT A RACIST. AND YOU ARE RIGHT. IT IS MORE THAN STUPID. I'M SAYING JUST IN GENERAL, THE STUPID THINGS THAT WE DO AND SAY IT BUT I WENT FURTHER TO BE CLEAR THAT THAT WORD, N WORD, SHOULD NOT BE USED EVER IN ANY CONTEXT. SO I FULLY ACKNOWLEDGE THAT AND OWN THAT AND I'M NOT TRYING TO GET AWAY WITH THAT AND SAY OH, THAT WAS SOMETHING SILLY AND STUPID. I AM SAYING THAT THAT WORD SHOULD NEVER BE USED AND THAT NIGHT WHEN I USED IT, AND WHEN I WAS HEAVILY INTOXICATED, I THOUGHT I WAS BEING FUNNY. AT THE TIME AND I WAS TRYING TO GET MY FRIEND TO REPEAT THE STORY AND CLEARLY, IT IS NOT FUNNY IT IS OF NOXIOUS AND YOU SHOULD NEVER USE THAT WORD. ________________________________________ JOHN, WILL WE SEE ANY MORE OF THESE VIDEOS LIKE THIS SURFACE OF YOU USING LANGUAGE LIKE THIS ? ________________________________________ I HOPE NOT. YOU KNOW, WHO KNOWS -- THE THING IS, TOO, I VERY RARELY DRANK AND THE -- IN FACT, I DON'T THINK I HAVE DRUNK RED WINE SINCE THAT TIME FIVE YEARS AGO. THERE'S A GOOD REASON WHY YOU SHOULDN'T DRINK AND DRINK THAT HEAVILY, BUT THIS WAS ABOUT TWO GUYS. ANOTHER SEAWORLD EMPLOYEE GOT TOGETHER FOR DINNER WITH A PURPOSE OF LETTING OFF STEAM AND GETTING DRUNK AND IT ESCALATED TO THE POINT WHERE WE JUST GOT OF NOXIOUS WITH IT AND UNFORTUNATELY, IT WAS CAPTURED ON VIDEO AND NOW SEAWORLD IS TRYING TO USE THAT JUST TO ATTACK MY CREDIBILITY WHEN IT HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH THE TOPIC OF KEEPING KILLER WHALES IN CAPTIVITY. THE MORE -- THE MORAL AND ETHICS OF IT AND ANYTHING ABOUT MY BOOK ________________________________________ YOU WERE POINTING THE FINGER AT SEAWORLD FOR HIS ABUSE OF ANIMALS. ISN'T IT FAIR TO ASK, GIVEN YOUR VERBAL ABUSE OF A WHOLE RACE OF PEOPLE IN THIS VIDEO, IF YOU ARE THE PROPER PERSON TO DELIVER THAT MESSAGE ? ________________________________________ YES. I AM. BECAUSE WHAT MORE CAN I SAY THEN I TAKE FULL OWNERSHIP OF THE CONVERSATION AND IT SHOULD NOT HAVE HAPPENED AND I REGRET IT. I AM SORRY THAT THAT HAPPENED. BUT IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH MY SKILL SET AS A KILLER WHALE TRAINER OR MY EXPERIENCE AS A KILLER WHALE TRAINER OR MY LIFE EXPERIENCE IN THE 14 YEAR CAREER, 12 YEARS AND SEAWORLD AND TWO YEARS THAT A MARINE PARK IN THE SOUTH OF SITES. AS A SUPERVISOR. SO THAT IS THE ISSUE WE ARE TALKING ABOUT. WE -- NONE OF US ARE PERFECT AND WE WILL MAKE MISTAKES. I DON'T THINK ONE PERSON'S MISTAKE THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE OTHER ISSUE SHOULD PREVENT ME FROM BEING A SPOKESPERSON TO TELL PEOPLE WHAT TRULY HAPPENED DURING MY CAREER. ________________________________________ DID YOU KNOW THAT SEAWORLD HAD THIS VIDEO ? ________________________________________ NO, OF COURSE NOT. IT WAS A SHOCK TO ME TO SEE THAT THEY HAD IT AND TO EVEN REMEMBER IT, FIRST OF ALL. BUT TO SEE THAT SEAWORLD HAD THE VIDEO AND OF COURSE THAT THEY WOULD FOR NO OTHER REASON THAN TO ATTACK MY CREDIBILITY SEND THE VIDEO OUT TO MEDIA OUTLETS. THAT TO ME WAS MOST SHOCKING PART OF IT ALL. ________________________________________ IF YOU DID KNOW THAT THEY HAD THIS VIDEO, WOULD YOU HAVE RELEASED THE BOOK ? ________________________________________ OF COURSE. OF COURSE. THEY ARE NOT -- THIS IS A PREDICTABLE BEHAVIOR BY SEAWORLD AND THIS IS THE REASON WHY THEY HAVE SILENCED SO MANY TRAINERS IN THE PAST AND SCARED TRAINERS IN THE PAST NOT TO SPEAK OUT BECAUSE THIS IS WHAT THEY KNOW THAT SEAWORLD WILL DO. SEAWORLD WILL GO TO ANY LENGTHS NECESSARY TO SILENCE PEOPLE WHO WANT TO SPEAK OUT AGAINST THEM. AND WE ARE TOLD, YOU BETTER NOT EVER SPEAK OUT OR THESE TYPES OF THINGS WILL HAPPEN TO YOU. WHETHER YOU WANT TO REMAIN IN THE ANIMAL FIELD, YOU WILL NOT GET A JOB THEY CAN BLACKLIST YOU OR THEY WILL GO AFTER YOU. THEY CAN SUE YOU, PERSONALLY BANKRUPT YOU, OR JUST MAKE THESE RIDICULOUS PERSONAL ATTACKS AGAINST YOU. I THINK IT IS VERY CLEAR TO A LOT OF PEOPLE THAT BUY THEM SENDING OUT THIS VIDEO FIVE YEARS OLD, FROM A CELL PHONE, THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH KILLER WHALES BEEN IN CAPTIVITY OR ANYTHING ABOUT MY BOOK, THAT THIS WAS JUST A VERY LOW BLOW WAY OF SEAWORLD JUST TRYING NOTHING MORE THAN TO JUST ATTACK MY, MY CREDIBILITY. A PERSONAL, VICIOUS, PERSONAL ATTACK ON ME PERSONALLY . ________________________________________ I'M SPEAKING WOULD AUTHOR JOHN HARGROVE THAT JUST WROTE A BOOK THE NEED THE SURFACE KILLER WELL, SEAWORLD, AND THE TOOTH BEYOND BLACKFISH AND JUST AS A REMINDER, WE DID INVITE SEAWORLD TO BE PART OF THIS CONVERSATION BUT THEY DECLINED TO TAKE PART IN IT. LET'S GET TO THE SUBSTANCE OF YOUR BOOK, JOHN. BENEATH THE SURFACE IS THE NAME OF IT. YOU TOLD US ARE READY YOU TRAINED KILLER WHALES FOR 14 YEARS, 12 OF THOSE YEARS I SEAWORLD AND MANY OF THOSE YEARS AS I UNDERSTAND IT RIGHT HERE IN SAN DIEGO. WHEN DID YOU DETERMINE THAT THERE WAS SOMETHING WRONG WITH TRAINING WORKERS TO PERFORM AND KEEPING THEM IN CAPTIVITY ? ________________________________________ FIRST, I REALIZE THERE WAS SOMETHING WRONG WITH THE CULTURE OF HOW THEY TREATED THEIR TRAINERS. I REALIZE THAT BEFORE THE WHALES BUT TO ANSWER YOUR QUESTION, REALLY ONCE I STARTED SEEING THE WHALES BEING TREATED LIKE BABY MACHINES AND ONE WE FIRST STARTED DOING ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION IN THE BEGINNING, I THOUGHT WAS FANTASTIC BECAUSE WE DID THE FIRST ONE THAT WAS SUCCESSFUL IN THE WORLD. AND STILL VERY YOUNG AT THAT POINT, AND I TOOK EVERYTHING THAT SEAWORLD SAID AS THE GOSPEL. I WAS HAPPY AT SEAWORLD FOR A LONG TIME. I BELIEVED IN EVERYTHING THAT THEY SAID. SLOWLY OVER TIME, YOU SEE THE DAMAGING EFFECTS OF CAPTIVITY ON THESE ANIMALS. THE WORN DOWN TEETH, THE COLLAPSED DORSAL FINS, US HAVING TO DRILL THE TEETH, ALL THE MEDICATIONS WE HAD TO HAVE THE WHALES ON. AND WHEN THEY STARTED SEPARATING MOTHERS FROM THEIR CALVES AND THE FORCED ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION'S, OFTEN EVEN UNNATURAL AGES. ALL OF THESE THINGS, OVER TIME, YOU START TO THINK FOR YOURSELF. AND YOU REALIZE, YOU KNOW, THESE THINGS ARE JUST NOT MORALLY AND ETHICALLY ACCEPTABLE. THEN YOU GO THROUGH THE PERIOD WHAT YOU STRUGGLE BECAUSE YOU LOVE THESE ANIMALS AND THIS WAS YOUR CHILDHOOD DREAM AND THIS IS YOUR IDENTITY AND YOU CANNOT JUST WALK AWAY. IT IS TOUGH JUST TO WALK AWAY AND FEEL LIKE YOU ARE ABANDONING THOSE ANIMALS. THERE'S A PROCESS AND JOURNEY TO GET TO WHERE YOU NEED TO BE. AT THE END, TO REALIZE IT AND ACTUALLY MAKE THAT DECISION TO LEAVE. I THINK EVERYBODY, IT'S INDIVIDUAL . ________________________________________ THE DOCUMENTARY BLACKFISH WHICH YOU WERE IN, JOHN, IT ITSELF MAKES A PRETTY STRONG CASE AGAINST SEAWORLD'S TREATMENT OF AUGUST. SO WHAT -- OF OUR CAUSE, SO WHAT DO WE LEARN IN YOUR BOOK AS THE TITLE SAYS GOES BEYOND BLACKFISH ? ________________________________________ I GO INTO MORE INCIDENTS THAT WERE NOT REPORTED CERTAINLY WERE NOT MENTIONED IN BLACKFISH. AGGRESSIVE INCIDENTS THAT I HAD WITH KILLER WHALES AND THE WATER BUT OTHER TRAINERS HAD WITH KILLER WHALES. TRAINERS THAT WERE NEARLY KILLED THAT SUED SEAWORLD FOR NEGLIGENCE AND FORCED TO SETTLEMENT AND GAG ORDER. I GO INTO THAT TO SHOW THAT HIGHLIGHT THE CULTURE OF SEAWORLD WHICH IS THING PERFECTLY HIGHLIGHTED NOW WITH THIS PERSONAL ATTACK, VICIOUS PERSONAL ATTACK AGAINST ME BY THEM THAT HIGHLIGHTS THE TRUE CULTURE OF THE CORPORATION. AND I SET OUT TO WRITE THE BOOK OF GIVING ALL THE HIGH POINTS AND ALL OF THE LOW POINT OF MY CAREER BECAUSE I HAVE MEMORIES THAT I WILL CHERISH FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE. WHALES GAVE ME THOSE MEMORIES BECAUSE THOSE ARE AMAZING ANIMALS, BUT WHAT PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW IS THAT ALTHOUGH, YES, THEY ARE AMAZING AND THEY ARE AMAZING TO COME AND SEE AND I UNDERSTAND WHY PEOPLE WANT TO SEE THEM, I UNDERSTAND WHY PEOPLE WANT TO WORK WITH THEM, BUT AT WHAT PRICE TO THESE PILLS -- WHALES PAY FOR US TO BE ABLE TO SEE THAT AND THESE WELLS ARE TRULY SUFFERING AND THEY ARE DYING FOR PEOPLE TO BE ENTERTAINED AND FOR A GREEDY CORPORATION TO JUST MAKE HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS OF PROFIT OFF THE BACKS OF THESE ANIMALS. AND TO SEE THEM SEPARATE MOTHERS FROM CALVES AND JUST OUTRIGHT LIE ABOUT INFORMATION THAT WE KNOW IS NOT TRUE, BEEN PROVEN BY SCIENCE NOT TO BE TRUE. ALL OF THESE THINGS ADD UP I JUST GO INTO ALL OF THOSE THINGS IN THE BOOK. I GO INTO ACCIDENTS, I GO INTO LAWSUITS, I GO INTO INJURIES, I GO INTO MY OWN PERSONAL JOURNEY, HOW I WENT FROM A KID WHO TRULY BELIEVED IN SEAWORLD AND WANTED NOTHING MORE AND FOR MANY YEARS WAS HAPPY AND HOW THEN I EVOLVED TO THE POINT WHERE I JUST SAID, YOU KNOW, I JUST CANNOT AGREE WITH THIS ANYMORE. OF COURSE, THAT CULMINATED WITH ALEXIS MARTINEZ BEING KILLED AND DOG BRAND SHOPPING COLD AND HOW THE FARK HANDLE BOTH OF THEIR DEATHS. I WAS STILL A TRAINER AT THE STADIUM WHEN THOSE DEATHS HAPPENED. SO I HAVE AN INSIDE OF YOU TO EXACTLY WHAT TO PLACE WHEN THIS WAS GOING ON AND HOW THE CORPORATION TREATED IT. ALSO, TO OSHA HEARINGS AND HOW THEY TESTIFIED THAT THEY HAD NO KNOWLEDGE THAT WE HAD EVEN A DANGEROUS JOB AND THAT WAS THE LAST STRAW FOR ME. I GET INTO THE FUTURE OF WHAT WE'RE DOING NOW WITH ALL OF THE LEGISLATION . ________________________________________ JOHN, I WANTED TO MAKE A POINT, TOO, YOU ALSO AT THE END OF THE BOOK SORT OF TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU WOULD LIKE THE CHANGES YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE AT SEAWORLD AND THE BOTTOM LINE OF THIS IF YOU COULD TELL US BRIEFLY, DO YOU THINK THEY SHOULD JUST STOP ANY KIND OF KILLER WHALE PERFORMANCES ? ________________________________________ ABSOLUTELY. THESE ANIMALS SHOULD NOT BE IN CAPTIVITY FOR ENTERTAINMENT. THEY SHOULD NOT BE IN CAPTIVITY AT ALL. THERE IS NO NEED FOR THEM TO BE IN CAPTIVITY. WE NEED TO MAKE SURE THE THEY ARE BREEDING PROGRAM IS STOPPED, FORCED ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION PROGRAM IS STOPPED, AND LET THIS BE THE LAST GENERATION OF KILLER WHALES IN CAPTIVITY. THIS WILL ALLOW SEAWORLD THE NEXT 30 YEARS OR MORE TO TRULY REBRAND THEMSELVES AND MOVE AWAY FROM -- WE DON'T NEED IN 2015 TO CAGE THESE ANIMALS AND TO SHOWCASE THEM IN SUCH A DEGRADING WAY. IT'S HISTORIC WHAT JUST HAPPENED WITH RINGLING BROTHERS WITH THE ELEPHANTS. THEY EVEN CAME OUT AND CITED ANIMAL WELFARE AND SHIFTING AND WHAT CONSUMERS WANTED TO SEE THAT THEY NO LONGER WANTED TO SEE ELEPHANTS AND IN THAT CAPACITY THAT ALL OF THE ELEPHANTS WOULD BE RETIRED TO AN ELEPHANT'S ACTUARY IN 2010. THIS IS A LOT THAT NOW YOU HAVE A CIRCUS THAT IS 145 YEARS OLD THAT IS NOW PROGRESSIVE ON ANIMAL RIGHTS THAN SEAWORLD IS. ________________________________________ WARWICK'S BOOK IN LA JOLLA TELLS US THIS IS THE FIRST TIME THAT THEY HAVE EVER HAD TO TAKE IT UPON THEMSELVES TO CANCEL AN APPEARANCE BY AN AUTHOR. HAVE YOU HAD OTHER CANCELLATIONS BECAUSE OF THE RELEASE OF THE VIDEO SHOWING YOU AS WE WERE TALKING ABOUT DRUNK AND USING THESE RACIAL EPITHETS ? ________________________________________ NO, NOT AT ALL. AS A MATTER FACT, THE BOOK SIGNING I HAD LAST NIGHT HERE IN SAN FRANCISCO WENT EXTREMELY WELL. IT WAS A PACKED HOUSE AND EVERYONE WAS EXTREMELY RECEPTIVE AND IT WAS DEFINITELY A SUCCESS. SO I AM NOT GOING TO LET -- SEAWORLD'S GOAL HERE IS FOR THIS TO BE A DISTRACTION. THEY WANT THIS TO BE A DISTRACTION, OFF THE, OFF THE MESSAGE BECAUSE THEY ARE VERY SCARED OF WHAT IS IN THAT BOOK AND THEY DON'T WANT PEOPLE TO SEE IT. SO I AM NOT GOING TO STOP AS -- ADVOCATING FOR THESE ANIMALS AND TELLING THE TRUTH ABOUT MY LIFE WITH THESE WHALES AND WHAT I BELIEVE IS BEST FOR THEM. SO I'M JUST GOING TO CONTINUE TO MOVE FORWARD. I KNOW THIS IS HOW SEAWORLD IS. I KNOW THEM VERY WELL. I'VE SEEN THEM DO THIS TO MANY TRAINERS IN THE PAST BEFORE SO THIS IS A TACTIC THAT THEY USED TO TRY TO SILENCE PEOPLE. I WILL NOT LET THAT HAPPEN. I WILL CONTINUE TO SPEAK TO PEOPLE BECAUSE THEY WANT TO HEAR IT. THEY WANT TO HEAR ABOUT WHAT IT WAS TRULY LIKE BEING A KILLER WHALE TRAINER AT SEAWORLD FROM SOMEONE FROM THE INSIDE. ________________________________________ MY LAST QUESTION TO YOU, IF YOU COULD BRIEFLY, JOHN, SEAWORLD AS YOU KNOW HAS A HUGE ECONOMIC DRAW HERE IN SAN DIEGO. SOMETHING OF AN INSTITUTION. IT IS LIKE THE SAN DIEGO ZOO. HOW DO YOU MAKE THE CASE TO SAN DIEGO AND IN PARTICULAR THAT SEAWORLD NEEDS TO CHANGE ? ________________________________________ WELL, SEAWORLD CAN CHANGE AND CAN CHANGE THEIR BUSINESS MODEL IS STILL OPERATE. WE ARE NOT SAYING CLOSER DOORS. WE ARE SAYING AND KILLER WHALES IN CAPTIVITY. LOOK AT THE TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENT WITH RIGHT SUCH AS UNIVERSAL STUDIO. THEY CAN DO AMAZING THINGS WITH THE RIGHT MIND THE RIGHT VISION PEOPLE COULD COME IN ALERT ABOUT THE SEE AND LEARN ABOUT KILLER WHALES AND LEARN ABOUT DOLPHINS AND THEY DON'T HAVE TO CAGE THESE ANIMALS IN THE SMALL CONCRETE TANKS AND SACRIFICE THE LIVES OF THESE ANIMALS SO PEOPLE CAN SEE THEM. IT'S AN ARCHAIC WAY OF THINKING AND WE DON'T THINK THAT WAY ANYWHERE. -- ANYMORE THIS IS NOT THE 1970S OR 1980S ANYMORE. ________________________________________ I'VE BEEN SPEAKING WITH JOHN HARGROVE, AUTHOR OF A NEW BOOK BELIEVE THE SURFACE, KILLER WHALE SEAWORLD AND THE TRUTH BEYOND LIKE FISH. THANK YOU FOR SPEAKING WITH US. ________________________________________ THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME. HAVE A GOOD DAY. ________________________________________

Warwick's bookstore in La Jolla canceled a signing with a former SeaWorld trainer who penned a book criticizing the company's treatment of its killer whales after an executive at the theme park made public a video showing the author using racial slurs.

The video made public Tuesday shows John Hargrove — who worked at SeaWorld as a killer whale trainer for 12 years and is the author of the new book, “Beneath the Surface” — using the n-word while on speakerphone with a woman. He’s also intoxicated.

Hargrove told KPBS Midday Edition on Wednesday that he doesn’t believe the video — where he uses the racial slur to describe a group of black men — will hurt his reputation.

“I don’t think that it will for the people who truly know me,” said Hargrove, whose book criticizes SeaWorld’s treatment of killer whales. “It’s certainly offensive language and it should’ve never been used. I was so heavily intoxicated — I barely recall any of those events. Clearly, it’s not funny.”

He said he cringed when he saw the video and regrets making the comments, but that it has nothing to do with his experience as a killer whale trainer or his experience at SeaWorld.

“What’s more shocking is that SeaWorld would push it out to all the media outlets when it has nothing to do with my book or my career as a killer whale trainer,” Hargrove said. “It was a smear campaign. This has nothing to do with my skill set as a killer whale trainer.”

Hargrove joined KPBS Midday Edition after initially canceling his appearance when the video was leaked. He then reconsidered and joined KPBS by phone.

Hargrove, who also appeared in the controversial documentary “Blackfish,” said his book digs deeper into the stories of the SeaWorld trainers and the treatment of killer whales. He tells stories of previously unreported incidents and situations where he said trainers where forced to be kept silent.

“I was happy at SeaWorld for a long time. Then, slowly over time, you see the damaging effects of captivity on these animals,” Hargrove said. “It (book) just highlights the true culture of the corporation.”

Prior to Hargrove’s initial cancellation on Midday, SeaWorld's vice president of communications, Fred Jacobs, emailed the video to KPBS. He said the company received the video from an “internal whistleblower."

"I understand that you are planning to report on John Hargrove’s book this week. As we have said all along, 'Blackfish' star John Hargrove, has repeatedly provided statements that are misleading, false or in conflict with statements he has made previously,” Jacobs said in the email. "As someone who might report on Mr. Hargrove and his book, 'Beneath the Surface,' we believe it is important that you see this video we received just this weekend from an internal whistleblower. We are offended by John’s behavior and language. The video is particularly reprehensible since John Hargrove is wearing a SeaWorld shirt. SeaWorld would have terminated Hargrove’s employment immediately had we known he engaged in this kind of behavior."

SeaWorld officials declined to be interviewed on KPBS Midday Edition for Wednesday’s show.

The company's image has suffered since the release of "Blackfish," a documentary about a Tilikum, a performing killer whale that killed several people while in captivity at the theme park.

This was the first book signing the independent bookstore in La Jolla has canceled in its history, which spans seven decades. After the owners learned of the video, they made the decision to cancel Hargrove’s event.

“We have never canceled an event before,” Adrian Newell of Warwick's said. “This has nothing to do with SeaWorld.”

Ex-SeaWorld Trainer Responds To Video Of Him Using Racial Slurs

Corrected:
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story had the incorrect date for the canceled book signing.