Drowning in Mistakes: SeaWorld Admits to Infiltrating PETA with Spies

It’s only a matter of time before SeaWorld becomes a distant memory – at least, we hope.

In its latest disastrous admission, the theme park has confessed to sending its own workers to act as spies, infiltrating an animal rights group that opposed its practices.

The revelation comes months after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) accused a SeaWorld employee of attempting to provoke violence while posing as a fellow animal rights activist.

In a statement, SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby said the company would end the practice, but said that the reason it was implemented in the first place was to protect the safety of SeaWorld employees and customers. (Ya, ’cause they’ve always been big on ‘safety’.)

The company remained tight-lipped on further details of the matter, refraining from disclosing who had authorized the infiltration, how long it had been going on for, or how many workers were used to spy on the animal rights group or other opponents.

As for the SeaWorld employee at the centre of PETA’s accusations, Paul McComb, he is still employed by SeaWorld, but working in another department now, according to the company. As you may recall, last summer, an investigation by PETA revealed that McComb had posted provocative comments on social media and tried to provoke protesters while pretending to be an animal-rights activist.

PETA officials said today that SeaWorld’s refusal to fire McComb, a human resources employee, demonstrates that it condones corporate spying.

Of course, the PETA/SeaWorld feud is nothing new. In the wake of the 2013 release of the documentary Blackfish – which suggests the treatment of captive orcas provokes violent behaviour and highlights the 2010 death of a SeaWorld trainer – the group has been vocal in its criticism of the sealife-filled theme park.

Increasingly, so has a lot of the educated world.

Not only have a growing number of people been vocal through social media on their distaste for SeaWorld, attendance at the park dropped soon after the documentary did. In fact, in August, we told you how SeaWorld profits had dropped 84 per cent in two years. Appropriately, shares of the company have also plunged.

Speaking of plunging, in order to save its sinking shop, SeaWorld Entertainment has hired Freeh Group International Solutions – a firm founded by former FBI Director Louis Freeh – to review oversight and controls over its security practices. Probably not a great sign.