Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Busted: 'SeaWorld Employee Infiltrated Animal Rights Group PETA'

Busted: 'SeaWorld Employee Infiltrated Animal Rights Group PETA'

A SeaWorld employee posed for three years as an animal rights activist, in an apparent attempt to undermine protests against the company over its use of captive killer whales, according to an investigation by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

This photo shows McComb being arrested at a 2014 SeaWorld protest. According to PETA, he was released without charges, and his name never even appeared on arrest sheets. Photo credit: PETA

The group publicized evidence this week that suggests 28-year-old Paul T. McComb, under the name "Thomas Jones," infiltrated the anti-SeaWorld protest movement, allegedly joining PETA's Action Team using a P.O. Box in San Diego that was registered to Ric Marcelino, the director of security for SeaWorld San Diego.

McComb, who Bloomberg reports has worked in a number of positions at SeaWorld since at least 2008, including as a human resources representative, attended organizational meetings and "constantly 'fished' for information from PETA staffers about protests against SeaWorld," PETA claims.

SeaWorld, which owns 11 theme parks in the U.S., has experienced a public-relations backlash since the release of the Blackfish documentary in 2013, which delved into problems within the sea-park industry.

According to PETA, McComb joined a protest of SeaWorld’s float in the 2014 Rose Parade.

"But, while he was arrested and taken to jail with the other protesters who sat down in front of the float, he suddenly vanished when the other protesters were booked and later released on bail. 'Jones' was inexplicably released without charges, and his name never even appeared on arrest sheets," the investigation found.

"But most insidiously, he has repeatedly tried to incite people who object to SeaWorld to act illegally," the animal rights group reports. "He even organized his own 'direct action' protest—one advertised as 'more exciting than just holding signs'—only to be absent on the day of the demonstration. All of this leaves no doubt that SeaWorld is a dirty tricks corporation, devoid of ethics."

Or perhaps one that is running scared.

Read page 1

Citing research by Heidi Boghosian, executive director of the National Lawyers Guild and author of Spying on Democracy, Kevin Gosztola writes at FireDogLake: "Increasingly, corporations are relying on surveillance of individuals and infiltration of groups to undermine and suppress activism," spurred by fear of how "boycotts or educational campaigns...might expose their practices and impact their earnings."

28-year-old Paul T. McComb, under the name "Thomas Jones," infiltrated the anti-SeaWorld protest movement, allegedly joining PETA's Action Team. Photo credit: PETA

Indeed, this March, SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. launched a new advertising campaign "highlighting the company's leadership in the care of killer whales," according to a press statement that indicated the effort came in direct response to animal-rights activism. "In the past two years, PETA has issued more than 110 press releases about SeaWorld, filled with inaccuracies about the company's animal care," the statement said.

And in its response to this week's allegations, the company provided a link to a PETA job posting for an undercover investigator.

"PETA itself actively recruits animal rights activists to gain employment at companies like SeaWorld, as this job posting demonstrates," said spokesman Fred Jacobs, who added: "We are focused on the safety of our team members, guests and animals, and beyond that we do not comment on our security operations. This is a responsibility that we take very seriously, especially as animal rights groups have become increasingly extreme in their rhetoric and tactics."

Plus, Gosztola notes, this "is not the first time that PETA has been targeted by a corporation." Nor will it likely be the last.

"There are very few consequences for this kind of corporate-sponsored espionage activity targeted against activists, especially when it is under the guise of protecting the 'security' or 'safety' of employees," Gosztola warns. "Corporations are able to get away with all sorts of surveillance and information gathering on citizens until they happen to commit an error and are exposed."

Watch Democracy Now!'s coverage from this morning on this issue:

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Pope Francis: Unbridled Capitalism Is ‘Dung of the Devil’

5 People Leading the Charge to Save the Honeybees

People Power Needed Now More Than Ever

Susanna Pershern / Submerged Resources Center/ National Park Service / public domain

By Melissa Gaskill

Two decades ago scientists and volunteers along the Virginia coast started tossing seagrass seeds into barren seaside lagoons. Disease and an intense hurricane had wiped out the plants in the 1930s, and no nearby meadows could serve as a naturally dispersing source of seeds to bring them back.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Fridays for Future climate activists demonstrate in Bonn, Germany on Sept. 25, 2020. Roberto Pfeil / picture alliance via Getty Images

Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere hit a new record in 2019 and have continued climbing this year, despite lockdowns and other measures to curb the pandemic, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Monday, citing preliminary data.

Read More Show Less

Trending

The Argentine black-and-white tegu is an invasive species that can reach four-feet long. Mark Newman / Getty Images

These black-and-white lizards could be the punchline of a joke, except the situation is no laughing matter.

Read More Show Less
Smoke covers the skies over downtown Portland, Oregon, on Sept. 9, 2020. Diego Diaz / Icon Sportswire

By Isabella Garcia

September in Portland, Oregon, usually brings a slight chill to the air and an orange tinge to the leaves. This year, it brought smoke so thick it burned your throat and made your eyes strain to see more than 20 feet in front of you.

Read More Show Less
A rare rusty-spotted cat is spotted in the wild in 2015. David V. Raju / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 4.0

Misunderstanding the needs of how to protect three rare cat species in Southeast Asia may be a driving factor in their extinction, according to a recent study.

Read More Show Less