A SeaWorld spokesman said he would not comment on “security operations”.
PETA is seeking to uncover the scope of SeaWorld’s relationship with Pasadena police given that McComb, who called himself Thomas Jones, may have informed them of PETA’s plan to have protesters sit in front of SeaWorld’s float during the 2014 New Year’s Day parade, according to the group’s court papers. McComb’s actions under an alias and possible illegal filming at the Superpod 3 orca-protection conference previous year are also matters for investigation.
“Furthermore, we do not believe that SeaWorld limited its espionage efforts to McComb’s activities”, Newkirk added. It has hired protesters to attend SeaWorld rallies, and PETA is now looking at two more men who we believe were SeaWorld agents hired to infiltrate PETA as “volunteers”, and the list may grow.
PETA said it hopes to release soon the names and photographs of other individuals it would like to question concerning their involvement in the group’s demonstrations and volunteer activities. “Chances are that the McComb affair is just the tip of the iceberg in SeaWorld’s dirty tricks department”.
When People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) exposed a SeaWorld employee as a corporate spy who had infiltrated the organization’s meetings and protests, the theme park’s initial response was to accuse PETA of hypocrisy.
Now, SeaWorld’s suspended the alleged employee as they open an investigation into the matter, which includes claims that the SeaWorld employee tried to incite violence from animal rights activists in order to reflect badly upon PETA.
In a statement to the Union-Tribune Thursday, PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk acknowledged that the organization engages in undercover work, but never against SeaWorld and never using a false identity.
PETA’s lawsuit alleges the department refused to provide records related to McComb’s detainment, according to a statement from the animal-rights organization.
SeaWorld attendance has dropped since the 2013 release of “Blackfish“, which was critical of the theme park’s treatment of its whales. Fewer celebrities and businesses are willing to have their names connected to SeaWorld. “In fact, PETA itself actively recruits animal rights activists to gain employment at companies like SeaWorld, as this job posting demonstrates”. That has made educational campaigns and protests by organizations like PETA more of a threat to SeaWorld’s business. So, that’s when we knew that something was up. This is a responsibility that we take very seriously, especially as animal rights groups have become increasingly extreme in their rhetoric and tactics.