(Original story at the Bits Blog on the New York Times here.)
Unlike the alligator hunter in Florida last month, Bob Parsons, the CEO of the web services company, GoDaddy, did not do anything illegal when he shot and killed an elephant while on holiday in Zimbabwe .
As a Chief Executive Officer of a successful internet services company and thus by default, his organization’s Chief Publicity Officer, he should have known better than to upload a video that is publicly accessible on the gruesome hunt.
It does not matter if it was legal or ethical (Parsons claims that there is an overpopulation of elephants in that area and they have destroyed crops). Some people just do not appreciate videos and pictures of guns and dead animals!
Perhaps this is yet another one of those publicity stunts by GoDaddy, which is apparently notorious for controversial commercials, as noted in the last paragraph of the article.
March 31, 2011, 6:31 PM
GoDaddy Chief Draws Criticism for Elephant Hunting VideoBy NICK BILTON
What did Bob Parsons, chief executive and founder of the Web services company GoDaddy, do on his vacation?
Shot an elephant. And then he boasted about it in a video he posted online Thursday.
Mr. Parsons kicked off a wave of online criticism Thursday when he uploaded a video in which he shoots and kills an elephant in Zimbabwe. He then poses, standing over the dead beast.
In the video, Mr. Parsons is seen discussing the trouble farmers in Zimbabwe are having with “problem elephants” that have trampled and ruined crops. Later that night, Mr. Parsons kills one elephant as others scatter. A caption on the screen says: “Of everything I do this is the most rewarding.”
Elephant fans left angry comments on Mr. Parsons’ blog. Some customers threatened to take their business elsewhere, and animal rights groups reacted with anger.
“Parsons is trying to play this off as if he’s helping people, but he’s not doing anything to solve the problem — he’s just committing a heartless act,” said Ashley Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. “You can see from the video how much enjoyment he’s getting out of this as he gloats by the dead elephant and AC/DC music is playing in the background.”
Ms. Gonzalez said PETA had sent Mr. Parsons a letter calling him “America’s scummiest C.E.O. of the year.”
Bob ParsonsBob Parsons poses with local villagers after killing an elephant in Zimbabwe.Mr. Parsons, who is a seasoned hunter, defended his actions, saying that people criticizing him “fancy themselves as animal lovers; their hearts are in the right place but they just don’t understand what’s happening there.”
“The elephants, which are overpopulated in Zimbabwe, constantly attack crops, and the people there are subsistence farmers who don’t have the means to drive the elephants away,” Mr. Parsons said in a phone interview from Hawaii. “What it takes is someone like me to go into the field at night, find a bull elephant and kill it. Then the rest of the herd will leave the field for good.”
Later in the video, local villagers are shown cutting up the dead elephant while wearing GoDaddy hats that Mr. Parsons had handed out. ”Those people are living in a form of hell, and some walked 20 miles to try and get a piece of meat from that elephant,” Mr. Parsons said.
Chris Foggin, head of the wildlife unit at Zimbabwe’s department of veterinary services, has written extensively about controlling wild elephants in the country. Although he is not against shooting elephants to control the population, he believes a “laissez-faire approach” is necessary, which would include “culling, translocation and contraception.” But Mr. Foggin notes that most solutions are too expensive for the country, and broad culling would draw negative international attention.
Although Mr. Parsons said his hunting expedition had nothing to do with GoDaddy, he said he did not think the video would affect his company’s business. His video also got comments of support.
“Even though there is a storm of people upset, they are the minority and the overall impact this will have on GoDaddy is that our business is gonna go up,” he said. “Americans will be drawn to go GoDaddy because they will see that I’m helping people get access to food and protect their crops.”
GoDaddy has received attention for its controversial commercials, which have been banned from the airwaves on several occasions, usually for being too racy or salacious for national television.