"When we heard about animal sickness or injuries, it was the trainers talking about it before they were gagged," she said.
The trainers also had little to no say over what happened to their animals, despite being the ones to work with and care for them. All decisions were made by corporate - and so all decisions ended up being financial ones.
"The trainers, they give their advice, they give their opinions, but at the end of the day it's not trainers, it's corporate," she said.
In one incident, Fischbeck entered the back of the Arctic exhibit to find one of the trainers crying. Corporate had just announced that they wanted Ruby, a beluga who had a series of disastrous pregnancies, to be bred again, and the trainer knew she could do nothing to stop it.
"If you speak out against it, you're fired," Fischbeck said. "They would instantly be fired. There's no question. They'd lose their job."
In a statement, SeaWorld said Fischbeck's allegations were "a complete distortion of the facts."
"If this employee had concerns, he or she had a variety of ways to express grievances, file complaints and/or report concerns," Aimée Jeansonne Becka, senior director for corporate communications at SeaWorld, said. "This includes the ability to report anonymously using a toll-free hotline or a website - both hosted by a third-party administrator. We encourage all employees to voice any concerns that they have."
But former SeaWorld trainers John Hargrove and Dr. Jeffrey Ventre both independently confirmed Fischbeck's account of the company culture, and said that SeaWorld regularly retaliated against employees who spoke out.
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