Early last week the Copenhagen Zoo announced to the public that they euthanized four of their lions: two adults and two cubs. The reason they provided to the public was that they were receiving a new male lion that would disrupt the rest of the pride, and that killing the four lions would allow for a more “natural” transition. They issued a statement saying that it was favourable to keep two of their young female cubs and find a suitable male cub, rather than keeping the pride the way it was. The zoo said that they had attempted to find a new home for the lions but that no one was willing to take them.
Here is a photo of one of the female cubs they are hoping will mate:
The outrage from the public has been tremendous, and this is not the first time in recent history the zoo has been a point of controversy. Earlier in March, the Copenhagen Zoo killed one of their giraffes then dissected it and fed it to their lions – all in front of school children. This giraffe, named Marius, was in apparent healthy condition and two other zoos offered to take him in. The Copenhagen Zoo refused to let him go, and opted to euthanize him instead.
This week in class we discussed Birk Johar’s article How to Save Your Brand in the Face of Crisis, which included a flow chart called “Crisis Communication Network/Decision Making Tree”. When I follow this flow chart for the Copenhagen Crisis it tells me that I should reduce the perception of brand responsibility and intentionality, and of repeat occurrence. It then tells me that my recommended communication options are: “come clean”, “polish the halo”, “not just me”, and “inoculation”.
In this particular crisis I would chose the “come clean” approach, which means that the brand should accept responsibility and apologize. They should make it clear that this will not happen again and that they will actively try to prevent it from re-occurring.
The Copenhagen Zoo should first apologize and admit that they could have done more to prevent the untimely deaths of these animals. They could then provide all of the facts that they used during the decision making process, and become completely transparent. They should consider investing money into a campaign or project that would allow these animals to be transferred to another home. They could also fire their CEO or someone who is higher up on the chain-of-command.