SeaWorld admitted yesterday that the company has had employees infiltrate and spy on animal-rights organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for years. The announcement, reported by the Orlando Sentinel, came at the end of a conference call discussing the company’s earnings. Chief Executive Officer Joel Manby acknowledged the practice, saying he had directed management to cease the activity that “was undertaken in connection with efforts to maintain the safety and security of employees, customers, and animals in the face of credible threats.” The development came to light last year after PETA accused SeaWorld employee Paul McComb of posing as an animal activist under the name of Thomas Jones, rallying alongside its members in several protests over a period of years. PETA made public several online messages and comments “Jones” had made when contacting other protestors, including asking what the “big surprise for the upcoming protest” was and rallying members to “grab your pitchforks and torches … to take down SeaWorld.” During the call, Manby also announced that McComb had returned to work with SeaWorld after being placed on leave.
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