The animal-themed amusement park SeaWorld has finally admitted that it had multiple employees pretend to be an animal rights activist to infiltrate People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which has long waged a campaign against the company for its purported mistreatment of killer whales.
CEO Joel Manby said that an order has been issued to “end the practice in which certain employees posed as animal-welfare activists. This activity was undertaken in connection with efforts to maintain the safety and security of employees, customers and animals in the face of credible threats,” the Orlando Sentinel reports.
One SeaWorld employee who went by the pseudonym “Thomas Jones” attended PETA meetings and protests, made connections with PETA members, and posted inflammatory messages on social media in PETA’s name, according to PETA’s blog.
Jones is accused of trying to incite violence against SeaWorld on social media, suggesting that people who dislike SeaWorld “get a little aggressive,” possibly blow horns outside the house of the company’s CEO, and even planned a “direct action” rally that he himself did not attend.
The infiltrator raised suspicions after he was released without being charged after a large group of PETA protesters were arrested.
The employee was previously placed on leave, but has now returned to work for the company, to PETA’s chagrin.
“SeaWorld’s latest report confirms not only that the company has employed more than one spy to infiltrate and agitate at PETA but also that it values its spies more highly than the executives who have had their heads chopped off in droves, as at least one of the spies is still working at the company,” PETA said in an emailed statement.