People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) claims that a SeaWorld employee pretended to be an animal rights activist under a fake name.
PETA stated in a press release that the activist, Thomas Jones, is actually Paul T. McComb, a human resources employee at SeaWorld.
PETA alleges that Jones/McComb would "post inflammatory messages on social media such as 'burn [SeaWorld] to the ground' and 'drain the new tanks at #SeaWorld,' in an attempt to incite illegal actions."
The animal rights group also claims that Jones/McComb posted other inflammatory messages such as "get a little aggressive" and “grab your pitch forks [sic] and torches."
PETA spokeswoman Kathy Guillermo told Bloomberg that the organization traced Jones' license plate number to McComb.
PETA also claims Jones gave them two different addresses when signing up with their organization. One of the address was in Jamul, California, but didn't exist. However, Bloomberg notes that same street address does exist in El Cajon, California, and is the home of McComb.
PETA claims the second address was a post office box in San Diego that "was registered to Ric Marcelino, director of security at SeaWorld San Diego."
Bloomberg reports that SeaWorld refused to confirm or deny if McComb worked for them, and that McComb would not say if he worked for SeaWorld. McComb reportedly hung up during a phone call with Bloomberg when asked if he was Jones.
Fred Jacobs, a SeaWorld spokesman, said in a statement:
We are focused on the safety of our team members, guests and animals, and beyond that we do not comment on our security operations. This is a responsibility that we take very seriously, especially as animal rights groups have become increasingly extreme in their rhetoric and tactics.
Bloomberg reports that pictures of Jones on his Facebook page resembled McComb on his wife's Facebook page (Brittany McComb).
However, Brittany's Facebook page was reportedly taken down on Monday, while Jones' page went down, but reappeared without his pictures.
SeaWorldOfHurt.com, a website owned by PETA, posted the two pictures, which it claims are McComb and Jones, who do appear to be the same person.
SeaWorldOfHurt.com states: "He constantly 'fished' for information from PETA staffers about protests against SeaWorld, and even joined PETA supporters in a protest of SeaWorld’s float in the 2014 Rose Parade."
"But, while he was arrested and taken to jail with the other protesters who sat down in front of the float, he suddenly vanished when the other protesters were booked and later released on bail. 'Jones' was inexplicably released without charges, and his name never even appeared on arrest sheets."
Hal Weiss, an animal rights activist, confirmed that pictures of Jones and McComb are the same person.
Lisa Lange, a spokeswoman for PETA, claims she met Jones several times and confirmed that Jones is McComb.
Lange also said in the PETA press release:
SeaWorld knows that the public is rejecting its cruel orca prisons and is so desperate that it created a corporate espionage campaign. Instead of creating a dirty tricks department, SeaWorld should put its resources into releasing the orcas into coastal sanctuaries.
SeaWorld has been under fire since the critically-acclaimed 2013 documentary "Blackfish" revealed the treatment of killer whales at the theme parks.
SeaWorld has been pushing a new public relations campaign on TV in which employees assure the public that they "love" the animals, but there are no mentions of the trainers who have been attacked by killer whales and one trainer who died under mysterious circumstances in San Diego, as detailed in "Blackfish."
SeaWorld was also accused of rigging an online poll against "Blackfish."