This last week, Sea World made a big announcement that they were letting one of their orcas, Tilikum, come back into their “Believe” show in Orlando. Tilikum is the orca that famously killed trainer Dawn Brancheau last February, causing Sea World to shut down and their PR department into crisis management mode.
A lot of the public is confused why they are putting this “killer” killer whale, which has supposedly killed 3 people, back into their show in Orlando. Since the incident last February, Sea World has not allowed any of their trainers in the waters with the orcas. This has helped relieve a lot of anxiety of people wanting to visit the parks but a lot of people are still confused why he isn’t being taken out of the show permanently.
Sea World has yet to answer CNN’s questions about the incident but came out with a statement last week saying that putting Tilikum back into their show would help him physically, mentally, and will help with his “enrichment.” Grey Stafford, trainer from the Wildlife Zoo and Aquarium, did an interview with CNN discussing why he thinks it’s a good idea that Tilikum be brought back into the show. He mentions that the biggest reason they are bringing Tilikum back to the show is because he is not an immediate threat to any one besides the trainers and that Sea World was taking extra precautions to protect the trainers.
As for PR, the reason I thought this should be discussed is, although Sea World has done its best to clean up the crisis, bringing Tilikum back into the picture might hurt them more than help them. Not answering the media’s questions quickly has left some people confused and for a business all about “butts in seats”, they need to make sure the public understands, fully, why they chose to do what they did.
Not only is the public needed to be reassured about this idea but also the family of Brancheau. Sea World’s PR department needs to make sure they make the public fully aware that they are sorry about the incident but that they are trying to think what is best for one of their orcas. Obviously Dawn died doing what she loved, but the whole incident was sad and shouldn’t be tossed aside so easily. It will be interesting to see if Sea World ever responds to CNN.