Originally published September 16 2015
SeaWorld now using spy infiltration techniques against animal rights activists
by Jennifer Lea Reynolds
(NaturalNews) SeaWorld is not exactly known for a stellar environment in which its whales are treated fairly and their trainers are entirely safe. The fun environment where many once flocked to for spectacular encounters with killer whales has experienced serious backlash on several fronts. Animal rights activists are concerned about its whales which live and are trained in captivity, suggesting that such confinement is unfair for an animal meant to live in the open seas. There's also been public relations nightmares involving the death of trainer, dragged underwater and dismembered by the very whale being trained.
Next on the list of SeaWorld PR nightmares: corporate espionage.
As if straight out of a spy movie, the park's latest debacle features human resource employee Paul McComb who was operating under the alias Thomas Jones. As Jones, he posed as an avid PETA supporter, often involved in protests specifically pertaining to SeaWorld's whales.(1)
The Jones/McComb tactic: save the whales, but work at park that keeps them in captivityHowever, his approach was atypical of PETA, often filled with highly-charged wording and undoubtedly done purposely to paint a violent picture of PETA in the public eye. For example, PETA maintains that Jones once turned to social media with brusque statements such as "burn (SeaWorld) to the ground" and "drain the new tanks at #SeaWorld." Such behavior, along with the fact that he conveniently went missing during a PETA arrest or that he once provided PETA with two addresses--one of which was ultimately found to belong to Seaworld's director of security--raised red flags throughout the animal rights organization.(1,2)
Back at SeaWorld, McComb would relay the behind-the-scenes scoop at PETA, providing the San Diego, California theme park with information and action plans.
Behavior of SeaWorld spy "concerning"Today, McComb has been suspended by SeaWorld which is currently working with a private investigator to look into the matter. SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby has issued the following statement:
The allegations made yesterday against a SeaWorld employee are very concerning. These allegations, if true, are not consistent with the values of the SeaWorld organization and will not be tolerated. The SeaWorld Board of Directors and I have initiated an investigation into this matter which will be led by independent outside counsel, Ron Olson of Munger, Tolles & Olson, whose firm will have full access to our organization and people. In addition, we have placed the employee in question on paid administrative leave pending the findings of the investigation. We will take all appropriate actions based on the results of the investigation to ensure that the integrity and values of the SeaWorld organization are upheld.(3,4)
At the same time, SeaWorld spokespeople are attempting to turn the tables on PETA by accusing them of espionage. Such deflection includes mentioning how the organization has spied by using drones to secretly tape animal footage or that they've even issued job postings in search of an undercover investigator. One such PETA job posting says the position's objective is "To use a variety of undercover investigative methods to conduct field investigations in PETA's focus areas, including the use of animals for food, clothing, experimentation, and entertainment."(1,5)
SeaWorld attempts to fix issues but ends up creating new onesStill, SeaWorld seems to be missing the point.
Sure, PETA has captured footage of animals and they engage in efforts that yield compelling videos and images to support their cause. But they are doing so in the name of protecting animal rights and ending horrific abuse against helpless creatures. SeaWorld, too, has apparently engaged in undercover operations to garner information. But unlike PETA's standards, SeaWorld turned to trickery with an eye towards damaging PETA in the hopes of bolstering their own crumbling image. It's really a simply fix for SeaWorld: focus on fixing their own problems instead of creating new ones and maybe, just maybe, their image will improve.
Until then, SeaWorld is known as a place where its whale trainers risk death by the very animals they work with and its employees are encouraged to engage in deceitful espionage that disrupts well-intentioned animal rights organizations.
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