Last February, the Copenhagen Zoo shocked the world with its public approach to euthanizing unwanted animals. The zoo was widely condemned for its decision to kill a giraffe and then to feed it to lions in the view of zoo goers, which included children.
Animal rights’ activists and zoo advocates questioned the zoo’s approach to transparency regarding the treatment of surplus animals in captivity.
In their statement to CBC News, Canada’s Accredited Zoos and Aquariums (CAZA) said “While we understand that the Copenhagen Zoo saw this as a ‘teachable moment’ and an opportunity to educate visitors on what, in the wild, is a natural occurrence, we believe that the educational value of such demonstrations must be assessed very carefully against their potential to shock and desensitize, and to raise additional and difficult questions, particularly among children.”
While the Copenhagen Zoo example may seem disconnected from the business world, focusing as it does on animals instead of mergers and acquisitions, it is probably one of the better examples we have today for understanding the value of transparency in building trust and embedding authenticity.
Transparency builds trust and credibility
Steffen Straede, the zoo’s chief executive officer, told Bloomberg News: “We tell the story of what goes on behind the curtain to build credibility and we’ll tell the story of how animals are managed and (how they) live. I can’t speak for animal parks elsewhere and why they aren’t equally transparent, but I’d much rather do it our way than withholding information.”
Straede described the Copenhagen Zoo as “no-spin territory,” adding, “We can’t spin the news and remain credible to our audience, and we’ve chosen credibility to earn the trust of the visitors and the public.”
Companies wanting to be more transparent in their operations need to commit to information sharing through public disclosure,...
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