PRSA Western District Conference Redux 
March 20, 2019
Clear the Clutter, Clear the Mind
March 22, 2019
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We’ve seen it time and time again that when animals do “human-like” things, it makes news.

It even happens when animals do animal-like things, such as the recent incident at the Wildlife World Zoo west of Phoenix when a jaguar clawed a patron and pinned her to the outside of the cage after she had climbed over a barrier to get a selfie with the cat.

You can bet the zoo’s crisis communications team was ready for such an incident.  As we would with our clients, we would prepare them in advance for a variety of crisis situations.   You always hope you never need to fall back on the training for such – but occasionally the planning pays off.

Headlines in the days after the incident lauded the zoo for how it handled things.

Our team was not involved, but you know that once zoo officials learned of the incident they:

  • Alerted their crisis team
  • Gathered all the facts
  • Prepared talking points based on the facts
  • Prepped their spokesperson
  • Responded to all media inquiries quickly and honestly

And maybe the trump card in all of it, the local zoo referred reporters to an outside source for a comment, resulting in this quote:

The institution did everything right,” said John Seyjagat, executive director of the Zoological Association of America.  “The one thing we don’t have protocols for is testing people for being stupid when they come through your doors.”

It’s maybe not politically correct, but spot-on.

Reports state the woman apologized to the zoo for the backlash caused by media reports of the incident.

Scott Hanson
Scott Hanson
President Scott is president of HMA Public Relations and a founding member of the Public Relations Global Network. He’s a Phoenix native, husband, father of two and a fan of all sports and a participant in some. Check out Scott's full bio

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