SeaWorld acknowledges planting worker in animal rights group

ORLANDO, Fla. -- SeaWorld acknowledged that it sent its own workers to infiltrate an animal rights group which opposed the practices of the theme park.

See Full Article

The development comes months after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals accused a SeaWorld employee of trying to incite violence while posing as a fellow animal rights activist.

SeaWorld Entertainment CEO Joel Manby vowed Thursday to end the practice, but said that it had sent its employees to protect the safety of its employees and customers.

"We recognize the need to ensure that all of our security and other activities align with our core values and ethical standards," Manby said.

However, the company refused to say who had authorized the infiltration, how long it had been going on, or how many workers were used to infiltrate animal rights groups or other opponents. SeaWorld spokeswoman Aimee Jeansonne Becka cited the confidential nature of its security practices.

The employee at the centre of the accusations by PETA, Paul McComb, is still employed by SeaWorld but working in another department, the company said Thursday.

PETA said last summer that its own investigation revealed that McComb, a human resource worker, attempted to incite protesters and had posted incendiary comments on social media while masquerading as an animal-rights activist since 2012.

PETA officials said Thursday that SeaWorld's refusal to fire McComb shows that it condones corporate spying. The group has been especially vocal in its criticism of SeaWorld since the 2013 documentary, "Blackfish," suggested the treatment of captive orcas provokes violent behaviour.

Park attendance dropped after the release of the documentary, which chronicled events at the park leading up to the death of a SeaWorld trainer in 2010.

"The tawdry orca sideshows and despicable spying tactics are sinking SeaWorld's ship," said Tracy Reiman, PETA's executive vice-president.

SeaWorld could face civil, and even criminal, legal exposure depending on the information it obtained from McComb about PETA and what the company did with the information, said Sharon Sandeen, a law professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota.

If any information SeaWorld got from McComb met the definition of a trade secret -- it was secret, had value because it was secret and there was an effort by PETA to keep it secret -- then PETA could have a claim of trade secret misappropriation, she said.

"PETA would have to identify information that they said was misappropriated," Sandeen said. "They would have to show they had policies in place to keep the information secret."

SeaWorld Entertainment Inc. is hiring Freeh Group International Solutions to review oversight and controls over its security practices. The firm was founded by former FBI director, Louis Freeh.

Shares of the company plunged more than 11 per cent.


Latest Economic News

  • Can Facebook restore public trust after privacy scandal?

    Economic CTV News
    CHICAGO -- It's a scandal of privacy, politics and an essential ingredient of business success -- public trust. Facebook is confronting a costly, embarrassing public relations debacle after revelations that Cambridge Analytica may have misused data from some 50 million users to try to influence elections. Source
  • China tells U.S. it will defend interests after Trump tariffs

    Economic CTV News
    BEIJING -- China's newly appointed economic czar told U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Saturday that Beijing is ready to defend its interests after U.S. President Donald Trump announced plans to slap tariffs on nearly US$50 billion in Chinese imports. Source
  • The biggest loser in a trade war between China and the U.S.? It's you (but don't worry about it)

    Economic CBC News
    The old adage tells us no one wins a trade war. So, the next logical question is: Who loses? Well, the short answer is — you do. Consumers have been the clear beneficiaries of globalization. Cheap stuff has flooded into North America at a historically unprecedented rate. Source
  • What's being done with your data: Experts ask, shouldn't someone get this under control?

    Economic CBC News
    Now that Facebook, Google and Amazon know pretty much everything about us, how they're using that information is drawing the focus of politicians throughout the Western world, asking in effect: "Shouldn't something be done about this?" Source
  • Bombardier executive compensation hits US$33.4 million in 2017

    Economic CTV News
    MONTREAL -- Bombardier's executive compensation rose seven per cent to US$33.4 million in 2017, according to a circular released ahead of the company's May 3 annual meeting. The increase comes after a year marked by improved results, but also by the Airbus takeover of the C Series program without the company having to pay a single cent. Source
  • U.S. sets May 1 tariff threat on Canada, Mexico amid rush to speed up NAFTA talks

    Economic CBC News
    The United States has just applied additional pressure in its rush to get a new NAFTA agreement within several weeks, establishing a May 1 deadline, after which Canada and Mexico would face tariffs on steel and aluminum. Source
  • United Airlines gives $10,000 voucher to traveller on overbooked flight

    Economic CBC News
    A passenger who was bumped off a full flight has scored the maximum prize — a $10,000 US travel voucher. A spokesperson for United Airlines confirmed Friday that a passenger got the big voucher, but he didn't name the person. Source
  • Canadian retailers could be boosted by a U.S. trade battle with China

    Economic CTV News
    MONTREAL -- U.S. President Donald Trump's plan to impose tariffs on up to US$60 billion of Chinese imports could help Canadian retailers by further easing cross-border shopping, even though a full-fledged trade war between the world's two economic superpowers would damage Canada's economy, experts say. Source
  • CRA audits just 5 Canadians out of hundreds of RBC Panama Papers accounts

    Economic CBC News
    Two years after it took aim at hundreds of Royal Bank clients exposed in the Panama Papers leak, the Canada Revenue Agency has decided just five cases require an audit. That's because most of the offshore accounts it unearthed ended up belonging to foreigners, the CRA says. Source
  • Manulife mix-up: $170K retirement nest egg transferred from account without warning

    Economic CTV News
    A Toronto woman’s retirement nest egg was transferred out of her RRSP account after Manulife Financial wired more than $170,000 to a foreign third-party stock transfer company, putting the funds in limbo amid an ongoing spat with the financial services giant. Source