SeaWorld Admits Worker Spied on Animal Rights Group

A SeaWorld San Diego worker was suspended last summer after PETA said he posed as an activist and tried to incite violence among peaceful protesters.

SeaWorld is acknowledging it sent a worker to infiltrate the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, an animal rights group that opposed the theme park.

SeaWorld Entertainment CEO Joel Manby said Thursday the company will no longer use such practices to spy on opponents.

Manby said the company is hiring an outside firm to review its security practices.

“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,” Manby said in a statement.

SeaWorld San Diego worker Paul McComb was suspended last summer after PETA said he tried to incite violence among peaceful protesters while posing as an activist.

The company said Thursday that McComb is no longer on administrative leave is still employed by SeaWorld, but in a different department.

PETA said SeaWorld's refusal to fire McComb shows it condones corporate spying. Executive Vice President Tracy Relman said SeaWorld's acknowledgment shows the spying has occurred more than once.

"SeaWorld's latest report confirms not only that the company has employed more than one spy to infiltrate and agitate at PETA, but also that it values its spies more highly than the executives who have had their heads chopped off in droves, as at least one of the spies is still working at the company," Relman said in a statement.

Relman's statement goes on to state that the park's business practices are "sinking SeaWorld's ship."

PETA has been one of the theme park's chief opponents since the release of the documentary "Blackfish," which is critical of SeaWorld's handling of killer whales.

The animal rights group has not only staged protests but has erected billboards and a marketing campaign opposing SeaWorld's animal practices.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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