It's a well-known fact that controversy sells books, and David Kirby's new non-fiction thriller called Death at SeaWorld
, is no exception, even though it is still several weeks away from official release.
Having already been shaken and stirred by passionate debate, Kirby's book should be a slam dunk. A hands down bestseller, born of controversial attempts by pro-captivity activists to ban the book in question. Unfortunately for them, the attempt appears only to have succeeded in driving up pre-sales.
Death at SeaWorld
centers on the battle with the multimillion-dollar marine park industry, the ramifications of keeping killer whales in captivity, and what happens when it all goes terrifyingly and tragically wrong.
It follows the story of marine biologist and animal advocate Naomi Rose, the senior scientist at Humane Society International. And it tells of the two-decade fight against a PR-savvy SeaWorld, that came to a head with the tragic death of trainer Dawn Brancheau, killed by SeaWorld's prize orca in 2010.
Also included in the book are many current and former SeaWorld trainers, including four who left the industry and weren't afraid to offer unique perspectives on the marine mammal entertainment industry and its policies. These insiders, now in respected career fields of their own, provide an exposé that is both feared and rejected by pro-captivity lobbyists. It is the motivating force behind the launching of several petitions attempting to ban Death at SeaWorld
from bookstores upon its release.
Unfortunately, efforts – some even going as far as to sanction a public book burning, appear to be failing. Instead Kirby's book has attracted several endorsements from an international conglomerate of respected scientists, celebrities and now even a supermodel.
Dr. Ingrid N. Visser, Founder and Principal Scientist of Orca Research Trust, calls Death at SeaWorld, "One of the most pivotal books in the orca captivity debate for years to come ... Every budding orca trainer should consider this the must-read book of their career."
This "Superbly investigative page-turner," said Erich Hoyt, author of the best-selling classic Orca: The Whale Called Killer
, and Research Fellow, Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, is "Certain to ruffle feathers and fins."
Louie Psihoyos, Academy Award-winning director of The Cove
calls the book, "Entertaining, engaging and enraging." Dolphin advocate Ric O'Barry said that Death at SeaWorld
, "Outlines in grim detail just how bad captivity is for orcas and other marine mammals."
Kirby's book has also received some early promising reviews. Publishers Weekly
called the book "diligent," "comprehensive" and a "passionate industry expose," while the Columbus Dispatch
selected it as one of the best reads of the summer.
Now, according to Voice of the Orcas
(VOTO), supermodel Anne-Marie Van Dijk is not only supporting the book, she will be one of two celebrity guests lending her presence at the book launch and signing event to be held July 17, 2012 at Barnes and Noble Tribeca, a premier site known for its readings by hip and popular authors.
Van Dijk plans to join forces with Kirby, Dr. Naomi Rose and John Kielty, Co-Founder of The Orca Project
in New York from 6:00-8:00 PM, to help spread the word about Death at SeaWorld
. The supermodel from the Netherlands said:
It is time we wake up to the true nature of the orca: Social, sentient and highly-intelligent; ill-suited to life in a concrete tank. Death at SeaWorld gives us an unprecedented look into the controversial subject of keeping orcas in captivity, exposing a dark reality in the process that can no longer be ignored. Having witnessed first hand the negative impact captivity can have on these magnificent animals, I can only praise and support David Kirby's work.
The book launch and signing event will kick off several planned tour stops including:
July 20, 2012 - San Juan Island, WA. 5-7 PM
- Presentation, book signing and panel discussion with Naomi Rose, HSUS, and three former SeaWorld orca trainers, Jeff Ventre, Carol Ray and Samantha Berg. Friday Harbor Inn, San Juan Island.
July 23, 2012 - Seattle - 7:30-10:00 PM
- Presentation, book signing and panel discussion with Naomi Rose, HSUS, and former SeaWorld orca trainers, Jeff Ventre, Carol Ray and Samantha Berg. Sponsored by The Orca Network and the American Cetacean Society, Pugett Sound Chapter. The Mountaineers, Seattle, WA.
July 25, 2012 - San Francisco - 7:00-9:00 PM
- Presentation and book signing. Sponsored by Earth Island Institute, International Marine Mammal Project. The Hub, 901 Mission Street, Suite 105, San Francisco, CA
November 10, 2012 - San Diego - TBA
- Presentation and book signing. American Cetacean Society 13th International Conference, Whales & Humans: A Conflicted Relationship.
Other events will be held in August in Orlando, Miami and at Emory University, home of cetacean expert Dr Lori Marino.
Meanwhile, Hudson Booksellers located in airports and train stations around the world, is going to carry Death at SeaWorld
at airport locations in Miami and Orlando. Rumor has it that pre-orders for the book are ticking along nicely and Kirby's book may be gaining potential interest from key broadcast and cable outlets – although I've been unable to confirm this.
But all of the interest does not bode well for those looking to put blinkers on Kirby's book. In the "Top 10 Reasons Banning Books is a Bad Idea
," Justine Larbalestier, an Australian young-adult fiction author wrote this:
Banning books might make you feel like you’re in control, but it actually screams of lack of control. You think you can control input but you can’t. Banned books have a way of being passed around mightily and promoted during banned book week and gaining a whole other life they might not otherwise have had.
It seems she might be right.