SAN DIEGO -- SeaWorld officials went on the offensive Tuesday against a former orca trainer who is critical of the park's treatment of the marine mammals by releasing an embarrassing video.
The cell phone video shows ex-employee John Hargrove, who appears to be drunk, using racial slurs.
SeaWorld released the clip Tuesday just as Hargrove is in the middle of a book tour for "Beneath the Surface." In the book, Hargrove writes about his time as a trainer and is critical of the park’s treatment of animals.
“It’s a smear campaign,” said animal activist Ellen Ericksen, who had planned to attend at Hargrove's book signing event at Warwick’s in La Jolla before it was canceled.
Employees at the bookstore would not say why the event was scrapped or if it had anything to do with SeaWorld’s release of the clip.
“We believe it is important that you see this video we received just this weekend from an internal whistleblower,” Fred Jacobs of SeaWorld said about the video’s release.
FOX 5 reached out to Hargrove, who also took part in the movie "Blackfish," for comment. He did not respond to the request.
“I remember parts of that night and drinking, and you can clearly tell we definitely had a lot to drink. But that video is taken completely out of context. There’s not a proper beginning or end,” Hargrove told U-T San Diego.
“It’s not surprising but it’s disgusting that SeaWorld would resort to this level of a smear campaign, making personal attacks."