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Negative publicity and a re-focus on cultural differences to

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Melissa Hart

on 10 July 2014

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Transcript of Negative publicity and a re-focus on cultural differences to

Negative publicity and a re-focus on cultural differences to Biodiversity
All gates open (back –of-house facility and gate to rest of farm) – human error
2 x entry wounds - neck and throat
No mauling
Lioness retreated into night room
Outside gate immediately closed to contain the lioness
Therefore lioness posed no additional threat

Mature staff member
23 years experience with animals, 12 particularly with lions
Well respected amongst colleagues and zoo fraternity
Survived by 3 wives, children and grandchildren
Actions Taken
Actions Not Taken
Staff Response
Shift In Focus
Additional Stress
Risks Not Mitigated
Lessons Learned
Cultural Differences
White Lioness - Nyanga
Shift In Focus
Moved from victim to survival of lioness
Zoo management: entangled in conflict with staff - strike
City: arranged for full investigation - tried to control media damage
Staff against euthanasia: informed social media about possibility of death of lioness
Zoo received more than 4000 Facebook messages threatening non support if lioness was euthanized
Surviving family and colleagues: grief counseling took a backseat until later
Additional Stress
CEO: fell ill and resigned
Board of Directors: felt side-lined
City media machine: slow to react
Zoo friends: felt betrayed
Staff Unions: used opportunity to divide management
White Lion Trust: campaigned to have lioness removed to their sanctuary
Animal activists: used opportunity to lambast zoos
Staff: insisted farm manager be expelled
Actions Not Taken
Emergency meeting: strategy regarding staff and communications
Emergency press briefing
Talk list: clearly outlined sound-bites and facts
Emergency meeting: JHB Group communications
Lesson: Contract services of qualified press agency

Johannesburg, South Africa
JHB Zoo is a municipal owned entity
Owns a conservation farm in Parys, 200 km from Johannesburg Zoo
February 2012: male staff member was fatally injured by a lioness on the conservation farm

Actions Taken
Same day
Communications from CEO to Political leadership and board of directors
Investigation: initiated by JHB City Health and Safety team
Staff: briefed by executive team at emergency meeting
Press: preparation statement
Risks Not Mitigated
Staff reaction: unexpected
Uncontrolled communication: media via friends, volunteers and staff family
No policy in place for staff fatalities due to animal attack except normal HR policies
City communication department: little experience dealing with social media and its pace
Social media: became a monster to handle due to inability of Zoo to communicate future of lioness (city wanted to make decision - took 3 months)

Taken by City (Zoo)
Zoo = business with inherent risks
Lioness: was moved to sanctuary - best option for lioness, staff (different cultures) and public
Victim's family: compensated financially - family went to farm for cleansing ceremony
All risk factors: addressed at farm and Zoo
Press release: indicating zoo actions
Follow up visit to sanctuary to observe lioness
Lessons Learned
Policies: not watertight - would have simplified matters significantly
Crisis communication strategy
Staff communication: to be sympathetic yet business orientated
Get formal messages and media statements out in first hour
Expect the shock and have consultants / therapists on hand
Make clear, calm and focused decisions
It's been 2 years
Zoo merged with City Parks
New management
Policies, strategy and risks reviewed annually
Lioness @ sanctuary
Kept contact with family via management
Cultural Differences
Who addresses staff - makes a difference in staff reaction
Dealing with fatalities differ according to culture
Communications need to take different interpretation into consideration
Press aware of details on same day before statement was released
Thank You
+27 11 646 2000
The Johannesburg Zoo
Staff Responses
Negative reaction: thought to be racial
Culture: majority black staff insisted on the lioness being killed. Belief: lions become man-hunters once they have tasted human blood
Political: majority leadership shared above sentiment – belief non humans don’t have souls.
Human vs animal on a hierarchical stage = human life is superior
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