SeaWorld, the massive and massively controversial theme park, finally admitted Thursday that its employees had infiltrated protests against the park by the activist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Yes, that’s right: SeaWorld used PETA tactics on PETA.
SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby told analysts on a conference call Thursday morning that the company’s board has “directed management to end the practice in which certain employees pose as animal rights activists.”
One employee, SeaWorld San Diego worker Paul McComb, was suspended last summer after PETA accused him of attempting to incite violence among peaceful protesters. At that time, SeaWorld said it would hire an outside firm to investigate the allegations. This was no one-time deal: McComb had masqueraded as a PETA activist for years, even being arrested at a protest against SeaWorld in 2014, reported Bloomberg News. He used a fake address, fake social media accounts, and went by the name of Thomas Jones. Once, in a Facebook comment before a SeaWorld protest on July 4, 2014, he wrote: “Grab your pitch forks and torches. Time to take down SeaWorld.”
According to Bloomberg, McComb’s résumé indicated that he had been employed by SeaWorld since at least 2008, and once held a position as a human resources representative. But until now, SeaWorld had declined to answer questions about whether McComb was still employed by the company. On Thursday, Manby confirmed that McComb is still employed by SeaWorld. “SeaWorld’s refusal to fire McComb shows that it condones corporate spying,” a PETA representative told the Associated Press.
Manby promised that the company will no longer use such practices to spy on opponents. And you know who you can trust?