SeaWorld has admitted to using spies to infiltrate animal activist groups such as the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals or PETA. Based on the statement issued by the marine theme park, these spies are employees of the company.
The confirmation was made by Joel Manby, the chief executive officer of SeaWorld while addressing analysts. According to the executive, the practice of sending out spies was for the protection of the park, the visitors, and its staff members, Market Watch reported.
"[The board of directors has] directed management to end the practice in which certain employees posed as animal-welfare activists," Manby said in a statement. "This activity was undertaken in connection with efforts to maintain the safety and security of employees, customers and animals in the face of credible threats."
Based on Manby's explanation, it seems SeaWorld was interested in knowing about the potential plans of activists against the operations of SeaWorld.
The revelation regarding the use of spies was made months after PETA accused the theme park of making its employees go on undercover missions to infiltrate the group. In one of the accusations made by PETA, the group said that an employee of the San Diego branch of Sea World posed as an activist and attended protests directed against the company.
The group noted that the employee was on leave during his or her stint as an undercover activist.
In response, PETA noted that SeaWorld still employs at least one employee who posed as a spy for the company. The group said that this individual's continued employment only means that the company favors its undercover activists more than some of its executives, which have been relieved of their positions within the past few years.
"SeaWorld's latest report confirms not only that the company has employed more than one spy to infiltrate and agitate PETA but also that it values its spies more than the executives who have had their heads chopped off in droves as at least one of its spies is still working at the company," PETA said in a statement according to the Orlando Sentinel.
The matter is the latest issue that can significantly affect the operations of SeaWorld. Its business began to suffer in 2013 after the release of the documentary film "Blackfish," which highlights the effect of captivity on the aggressiveness of killer whales.