A SeaWorld employee posed as an animal rights activist and attended events organized by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals for three years, PETA said in a statement Tuesday. In turn, the water park accused PETA of similar deceptive practices.
PETA said a man identified himself as "Thomas Jones" on PETA's Action Team website and “solicited information about peaceful protests” from its staffers. However, PETA claims that the man’s true identity is Paul T. McComb, a human resources employee at SeaWorld San Diego.
"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.
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SeaWorld responded to the allegations in a statement.
"We are focused on the safety of our team members, guests and animals and beyond that we do not comment on our security operations," Fred Jacobs, a SeaWorld spokesman, said in a statement. "This is a responsibility that we take very seriously, especially as animal rights groups have become increasingly extreme in their rhetoric and tactics."
SeaWorld also accused the animal rights organization of infiltrating "companies like SeaWorld."
"PETA itself actively recruits animal rights activists to gain employment at companies like SeaWorld, as this job posting demonstrates," Jacobs said in the statement. "Safety is our top priority, and we will not waiver from that commitment."
PETA in a statement responded that what they do is "nothing at all like what SeaWorld has apparently done here."
The organization said SeaWorld’s alleged "corporate espionage campaign tried to coerce kind people into illegal acts." PETA compared their own undercover work to that done by journalists.
SeaWorld would not confirm whether or not a Paul McComb currently works or has ever worked for the company.
Bloomberg.com first reported the allegations.