The U.S.-based company used its human resources employee to incite activists in protests to use violence against SeaWorld thus undermining their work.
United States-based SeaWorld company, known for its dolphin and killer whale performances, has been using one of its human resources employees in order to infiltrate People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), a prominent animal rights group and undermine their work against the entertainment giant, the group revealed Tuesday.
“SeaWorld knows that the public is rejecting its cruel orca prisons and is so desperate that it created a corporate espionage campaign,” says PETA Senior Vice President Lisa Lange was quoted in a press release by the group. “Instead of creating a dirty tricks department, SeaWorld should put its resources into releasing the orcas into coastal sanctuaries.”
The group revealed that for years a person known as “Thomas Jones” had been using social media, protests and events by PETA to incite other animal activists to use violence against SeaWorld. The group exposed him as Paul T. McComb, a human resources employee at SeaWorld San Diego.
McComb used inflammatory messages on social media, such as “burn [SeaWorld] to the ground” and “drain the new tanks at #SeaWorld,” in an attempt to incite illegal actions.
According to PETA's press release, “Jones” signed up for PETA’s Action Team on its website, and his information listed two different addresses. The first address, in Jamul, California, doesn’t exist. The second, a post office box in San Diego, was registered to Ric Marcelino, director of security at SeaWorld San Diego.
Meanwhile, he participated in several protests against SeaWorld and was even arrested during one in 2014. After being handcuffed and taken to the police station, he “mysteriously” disappeared and neither his fake nor real name appeared on arrest sheets, the group said.
Bloomberg Business said McComb, reached by mobile phone using the number at the jresume.com site, declined to say if he was a SeaWorld employee and hung up when asked if he used the name Thomas Jones.
PETA became a concern for SeaWorld in 2011 when the group sued the company for violating the civil rights of a captive orca. The suit was dismissed. Since then, the group has been a leading force against the abusive actions of SeaWorld.
In a written statement in response to PETA's claims, SeaWorld said it was "focused on the safety of our team members, guests and animals, and beyond that we do not comment on our security operations."
SeaWorld has been under mounting criticism over its killer whale shows, in which the massive marine animals perform tricks and stunts.
In 2013, the company's stock fell 50 percent after the release of the movie "Blackfish," a documentary about a SeaWorld orca and the trainer it killed. SeaWorld was later sued by shareholders and its CEO resigned.