Popular water theme park SeaWorld admitted Thursday that it has engaged in espionage activities, with some of its employees posing as animal rights activists in order to spy on critics and protesters of the theme park, according to CNN.
The espionage allegations started last year when People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) accused the theme park of sending people to spy on the animal activist group.
One alleged activist, who went by the name "Thomas Jones," was eventually found out to be SeaWorld employee Paul McComb, who worked for the theme park's human resources department, reported the New York Post.
While posing as an animal rights activist, McComb posted "inflammatory messages on social media" to "incite illegal actions," even inviting other activists to drain SeaWorld's tanks and set the theme park on fire.
SeaWorld Chief Executive Joel Manby admitted to the practice in a call with investors on Thursday. However, the CEO maintained that the spying was done solely for security purposes, reported the Associated Press.
The undercover employees were used to "maintain the safety and security of company employees, customers and animals in the face of credible threat," he said.
Responding to the news, the theme park's board of directors has demanded that all espionage activities be ceased immediately. While Manby has announced that it would not be undertaking any spying anymore, he also abstained from apologizing over the espionage activities.
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