By Mark Richardson – Texas News Service
SAN ANTONIO – Animal-rights advocates with the group PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, are speaking out in the wake of revelations that SeaWorld sent some of its employees undercover to spy on them. The admission came just a week after a shakeup of SeaWorld’s top management, including the departure of San Antonio Park Director Dan Decker and two other top officials.
PETA spokesman Liam Cronin says SeaWorld employee Paul McComb went by a false name and even got arrested at a PETA protest.
“We found SeaWorld employees were participating in demonstrations or protests, and in fact encouraging people on social media to take drastic and illegal actions, as a way to try and get our supporters to do things that would damage the movement,” says Cronin.
Last week, SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby admitted in an earnings call that his company directed workers to go undercover, pose as activists and infiltrate the group.
In a statement, SeaWorld said it will continue to employ the worker named by PETA, but in a different department.
SeaWorld claims it was responding to credible threats made against its parks, animals and employees, but will no longer use this tactic.
Cronin says PETA would like SeaWorld to build coastal wildlife sanctuaries and use virtual-reality displays, instead of keeping animals confined and training them to amuse audiences.
“We will not stop until the orcas, the dolphins, the seals and the other animals are sent to seaside sanctuaries, and not forced to spend their lives in tiny, concrete tanks,” says Cronin.
Late last year, SeaWorld announced it will be phasing out the popular orca shows at its parks. In addition, the California Coastal Commission has banned the breeding of killer whales.