But PETA activists, who have been targeting SeaWorld over its treatment of orcas, started getting suspicious when a group of activists, including Jones, were arrested at the Rose Parade.
Thomas Jones seemed pretty gung ho about sticking it to SeaWorld when he joined protesters with PETA.
If the claims are true, it would add fuel to SeaWorld’s burgeoning problems. Since then, they have endured boycotts and an exodus of sponsors. Attendance and revenue have suffered.
SeaWorld responded by saying that it is “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”, the statement reads.
SeaWorld declined to answer questions about McComb or the allegations. “What is the big surprise for the upcoming protest”. “”Time to take down SeaWorld”, and “#Blackfish is going to put #SeaWorld out of business.
The Facebook page of Brittany McComb, which was available Monday, has since been taken down. Bloomberg reported that both pages were removed at least temporarily when it broke the story on Tuesday. “He vanished during that protest too”, Lange said.
SeaWorld and PETA have been at odds since the release of “Blackfish”, a documentary that exposes the mistreatment of orcas at the famed aquariums.
At the urging of petitioners at Change.org and groups including Peta, artists such as Willie Nelson canceled appearances at SeaWorld’s flagship park in Orlando. Shares have since dropped by 30 percent.
In December, SeaWorld said it was replacing Chief Executive Officer Jim Atchison. The same month, SeaWorld introduced a marketing campaign created to show off the good work it does for animals, such as rescuing beached sea lions.
While SeaWorld isn’t addressing directly the accusations made by PETA, it made no effort to hide its move earlier this year to widely publicize a video intended to discredit a former SeaWorld killer whale trainer who wrote a book critical of the marine parks.
PETA posted a series of photos at SeaWorldOfHurt.com that it says document the Jones-McComb connection.
“The plan was that the people who’d been arrested would meet outside the station afterward, but the man who claimed he was Thomas Jones disappeared and his name, real or otherwise, never showed up on arrest sheets”, Raj said. He also didn’t have a record of a Thomas Jones close to McComb’s age.
More evidence abounds. Following a protest in San Diego on June 6, PETA was able to obtain the license plate of Thomas Jones, which was traced back to Paul McComb.
Lisa Lange – a spokeswoman for PETA – told Bloomberg that following the arrest (for civil disobedience) Jones was nowhere to be seen. Jones gave two addresses when registering with the group. One address – in Jamul – does not exist. There is such a street in El Cajon, where McComb lives, according to a Nexis search of public records. “The second, a post office box in San Diego, was registered to Ric Marcelino, director of security at SeaWorld San Diego”. SeaWorld was subsequently sued by shareholders and its CEO resigned.
The company statement noted that PETA “actively recruits animal-rights activists to gain employment at companies like SeaWorld” and pointed to a job posting for an undercover investigator.