Zoos bolster PR strategy to counter criticism after animal escapes
Today’s Wall Street Journal [$ubscription required] features a story on the changing PR strategies of zoos in the midst of animal escapes and attacks like the tiger mauling at the San Francisco Zoo on Christmas Day. The article says that says are increasingly forthcoming in disclosing details about escape incidents and animal deaths.
The nation’s largest zoos are in the midst of a public-relations campaign led by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums — a trade group that accredits zoos — to counter recent accusations by animal-rights groups that captive creatures are mistreated. They’re launching educational campaigns about the animal aging process, for example, to show that when an animal dies it is often due to natural causes. They’re also talking publicly about incidents, including escapes, that they might not have disclosed in the past.
The article says zoo the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) has also beefed up its crisis-management system to handle situations like the tiger attack. It also notes that as zoos built more naturalistic habitats, animals are healthier and more capable of escaping.
“The more natural you make an exhibit, the more natural behaviors the animal shows,” David Orndorff, director of the Mill Mountain Zoo in Roanoke, told the paper.