|SeaWorld employee Paul T. McComb posed as animal activist "Thomas Jones." Credit: April Cruz via PETA|
SeaWorld admitted on Thursday that the company had its employees pose as animal activists in order to spy on animal rights organizations.
According to the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) blog, seaworldofhurt.com, a SeaWorld employee, whose real name is Paul T. McComb, infiltrated animal activist protests under the alias of 'Thomas Jones.'
PETA says that McComb joined a protest in 2014 against SeaWorld's Rose Parade float where he and other protesters were taken into custody. However, 'Thomas Jones' was "inexplicably released without charges, and his name never even appeared on arrest sheets."
SeaWorld released the following statement on Thursday about the spying practice which the theme park giant said it was ending:
"During its earnings call today, SeaWorld announced that its Board of Directors is taking steps to strengthen the company’s security and risk management policies and controls. Following the completion of an investigation conducted by independent outside counsel, the Board has directed that the company’s management team end a practice in which certain employees posed as animal rights activists in connection with efforts to maintain the safety and security of company employees, customers, and animals in the face of credible threats that the company had received. The Board also has directed the company’s management team to strengthen oversight and controls to guide operations and security practices. SeaWorld has retained Freeh Group International Solutions, LLC to evaluate current controls and develop new policies and standards to ensure best practices company-wide.
All personnel matters pertaining to those involved have been handled internally. That said, Mr. McComb remains an employee of SeaWorld, has returned to work at SeaWorld in a different department and is no longer on administrative leave.
“We recognize the need to ensure that all of our security and other activities align with our core values and ethical standards. As always, the security and well-being of our employees, customers and animals remain at the forefront of our business practices,” said Joel Manby, President and Chief Executive Officer of SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc.
The report contains confidential business information related to the company’s security practices. The company will not comment beyond this statement."
PETA also admits to spying
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals also admitted to spying, but contends that SeaWorld's spying is worse.
"SeaWorld’s corporate espionage campaign included trying to coerce kind people into setting SeaWorld on fire or draining its tanks, which would obviously have hurt the animals, in an attempt to distract from its cruelty and keep PETA from exposing the miserable lives of the animals it imprisons," PETA said in a release. "When we send an observer in to look, we do what decent journalists do: We seek the truth. When SeaWorld spied, it had no interest in the truth, but only in creating illegal activity. We caught them in their dirty tricks."