The animal rights group PETA says it was infiltrated by a SeaWorld employee posing as an activist who was advocating violence.
SeaWorld is the aquatic animal theme park that has been the target of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals of criticism and a growing campaign to shut down its three locations in Orlando, San Antonio and San Diego.
"SeaWorld's dirty tricks now include trying to incite kind people who have voiced their concerns to engage in violent behavior, drain the park's tanks, climb the walls, and bring 'pitchforks and torches' to protests,"Kathy Guillermo, PETA's senior vice president, told Metro.
"SeaWorld can't defend warehousing orcas in miserable concrete tanks, so it has turned to corporate espionage in order to try to stop a charity from exposing its animal abuse," she said.
The group alleges that a man calling himself “Thomas Jones” has been attending protests and organizational meetings, trying to get close to PETA employees.
“Thomas Jones” has been posting inflammatory messages about SeaWorld on social media trying to incite illegal action https://t.co/yEvlhWDy25— PETA (@peta) July 14, 2015
PETA revealed on its website. that “Thomas Jones” has also been posting inflammatory messages on social media, including a call to “burn [SeaWorld] to the ground” and ”drain the new tanks at #SeaWorld.”
“Thomas Jones” is actually Paul T. McComb, a human resources employee at SeaWorld San Diego, PETA says.
SeaWorld has remained mum on the allegations.
“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,told Bloomberg Business.
“This is a responsibility that we take very seriously, especially as animal rights groups have become increasingly extreme in their rhetoric and tactics.”
SeaWorld refused to discuss Jones/McComb; and McComb hung up when reached on his cell phone.
The theme parkdefends itself furtheronline writing:
We care for 30 killer whales, the largest killer whale population in a zoological facility worldwide. They are our family.
We are a global leader in the care and understanding of this species and are accredited by the world’s foremost professional zoological organizations. We apply best practices in behavioral training, environmental enrichment, preventive health, veterinary medicine and facilities design and management. As with all animals at SeaWorld, the whales live in safe, sophisticated habitats, receive world-class medical care and are continually engaged socially, mentally and physically.
These animals are healthy and well adapted to their surroundings, a fact that is evident to our zoological experts through their constant interaction and observation 24 hours per day.
SeaWorld goes on to address various PETA allegations one by one.
PETA explains its position atSeaWorldofHurt.com.
The group writes:
SeaWorld enslaves animals in small tanks at marine parks around the country, where they are forced to perform unnecessary tricks for “entertainment.” It’s a business built on the suffering of intelligent, social animals who are denied everything that is natural and important to them. As a result, animals imprisoned by SeaWorld often die prematurely from stress and other captivity-related causes.
SeaWorld, which owns all but one of theorcas held captivein the U.S., has a long history of mistreating animals. In the wild, orcas are intelligent predators who work cooperatively in search of food. They share intricate relationships in a matrilineal society. In some populations, orcas rarely leave their mother’s pod, but at SeaWorld, they are often separated. These attributes, along with wild orca pods’ unique dialects, are considered a form of culture that is unrivaled by any species other than humans. Free orcas are among the fastest animals in the sea, and they swim as far as 100 miles every day. But at SeaWorld, they swim in endless circles in small barren concrete tanks.
The PETA campaign has sharply cut into SeaWorld’s bottom line as a boycott grows, sponsorships diminish and attendance falls.
The war on SeaWorld has grown more in recent months.
Even One Direction’s Harry Styles has piled on, recently telling fans that if they love dolphins, they should NOT go to SeaWorld.