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.



Advertisements

Latest Economic News

  • Environmental groups challenge Keystone XL pipeline approval

    Economic CBC News
    A coalition of environmental groups challenged the U.S. federal permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline in court on Thursday because they say additional environmental scrutiny is needed. The Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council and other groups say the initial environmental review completed in 2014 is inadequate and outdated, and that it underestimated how much the pipeline would encourage tar sands oil production in Canada. Source
  • Cenovus shares fall in wake of $17.7B oilsands purchase

    Economic CBC News
    Shares in Cenovus Energy were down 11 per cent shortly after markets opened Thursday following its announcement to acquire Canadian assets belonging to Houston-based ConocoPhillips.Cenovus Energy buying most of ConocoPhillips' Canadian assets for $17.7BUnder the $17.7 billion deal, the Calgary-based energy company would take over most of ConocoPhillips's investments in Canada in what is the latest mega oilsands sale by a major foreign oil and gas producer. Source
  • Is Toronto's housing market in a bubble? Not quite, analyst says

    Economic CTV News
    Despite a recent declaration by Bank of Montreal Chief Economist Douglas Porter that Toronto’s red-hot housing market is indeed in a “bubble,” other economists have been hesitant to use the controversial label to describe the city’s current real estate boom. Source
  • CIBC boosts takeover offer for PrivateBancorp to more than $6B

    Economic CBC News
    Shares of Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce traded lower Thursday after the bank boosted its takeover bid for PrivateBancorp by 20 per cent. Under the terms of a new takeover agreement that has approved by the boards of directors of both firms, the deal values Chicago-based PrivateBancorp at approximately $6.6 billion Cdn, or $60.92 US per share, Source
  • Air Canada lawsuit accuses Airbus of negligence in Halifax crash landing

    Economic CTV News
    HALIFAX - Air Canada is claiming a French aircraft manufacturer's negligence contributed to a crash landing at Halifax Stanfield International Airport two years ago. The Canadian airline is suing Airbus SAS, saying the company failed to identify shortcomings of the Airbus 320. Source
  • Trump takes first step in NAFTA renegotiation

    Economic CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- The Trump administration has taken an early step in renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, sending the U.S. Congress a draft list of priorities for the negotiation that expresses hope for change in a broad range of areas. Source
  • Vague NAFTA renegotiation plan after Trump's tough talk

    Economic CTV News
    WASHINGTON -- The Trump administration has submitted a vague set of guidelines to Congress for renegotiating the North American Free Agreement with Mexico and Canada, disappointing those who wanted a major overhaul of a decades-old trade deal that Trump described as "disaster" during the presidential campaign. Source
  • Cenovus Energy stock slides after $17.7B deal with ConocoPhillips

    Economic CTV News
    CALGARY -- Shares in Cenovus Energy were down 11 per cent shortly after markets opened Thursday following its announcement to acquire Canadian assets belonging to Houston-based ConocoPhillips. Under the C$17.7 billion deal, the Calgary-based energy company would take over most of ConocoPhillips's investments in Canada in what is the latest mega oilsands sale by a major foreign oil and gas producer. Source
  • TD Bank reviewing sales practices, CEO Bharat Masrani tells AGM

    Economic CBC News
    TD Bank says it is reviewing concerns about its sales practices in light of reports that some employees allegedly broke the law in order to meet sales targets and keep their jobs. CEO Bharat Masrani says the bank received "a few hundred complaints" last year regarding its sales practices that were escalated. Source
  • TD Bank reviewing sales practice concerns: CEO

    Economic CTV News
    TORONTO -- TD Bank says it is reviewing concerns about its sales practices in light of reports that some employees allegedly broke the law in order to meet sales targets and keep their jobs. "As we have done in the past with matters of such importance, we will be relying on our board as well as the objective advice from a leading professional services firm to make sure we really test ourselves," CEO Bharat Masrani said during the bank's annual shareholder meeting Thursday. Source