"Hunger provides leverage," added Dr. Jeffrey Ventre, a physiatrist and former SeaWorld trainer, who alleges the tactic was especially employed when celebs, politicians or wealthy businessmen were scheduled to attend. "These were scheduled shows and known weeks in advance. Food was sometimes withheld to ensure animal cooperation."
"We would never deprive the whales of the food that they need," SeaWorld says in the video, part of SeaWorld's revamped branding campaign crafted to temper fallout from the documentary "Blackfish."
They even cite an old tweet from former trainer and outspoken SeaWorld critic John Hargrove, though he recently tweeted that food deprivation was "common & was approved by management & vets."
As "Voice of the Orcas" puts it: "If you think about it, how else could you coerce an orca to separate from its family, remain motionless for teeth drilling, or pose for photos on a slide-out for 20 minutes without a hunger drive?"