An "activist" who joined anti-SeaWorld protests and made inflammatory postings online calling for the tanks to be drained and the theme park burned to the ground was on the SeaWorld payroll all along, PETA says. The group says activist "Thomas Jones," who has attended many animal rights meetings and protests, is really 28-year-old Paul McComb, who has been a SeaWorld human resources employee since 2008, reports Bloomberg, which notes that if the theme park really did send its own undercover agent to infiltrate activist groups, it will be another "public-relations black eye" for the company. SeaWorld says it is not going to comment on "security operations," Mashable reports.
PETA says McComb tried to get others to commit illegal actions, and organized a direct-action protest to which he didn't show up. "SeaWorld knows that the public is rejecting its cruel orca prisons and is so desperate that it created a corporate espionage campaign," PETA Senior Vice President Lisa Lange said in a statement. "Instead of creating a dirty tricks department, SeaWorld should put its resources into releasing the orcas into coastal sanctuaries." Lange tells the Guardian that she became suspicious when McComb was arrested alongside her at the 2014 Rose Parade in Pasadena, and later told her the police let him go because he didn't have his ID with him. (A South Carolina woman is suing SeaWorld for $2 billion over its treatment of orcas.)