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White Tiger Attack


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This case was prepared by J JEYASEELAN and …

This case was prepared by J JEYASEELAN and
YEO JIALIN JOLENE as an assignment for CS 4033 Corporate Communications Management at Nanyang Technological University.

Published in: Technology

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  • 1. COM433 Corporate Communications Management A White Tiger Attack Case Study J Jeyaseelan Jolene Yeo
  • 2. Disclaimer This case was developed based on archival research with the sole purpose for class discussion. It does not aim to serve as endorsements or to be used as a source of primary data to illustrate managerial practices of the organisation(s) or individual(s) mentioned in the case.
  • 3. Case objectives • This case aims to illustrate the importance of effective communication management during an unprecedented and tragic crisis • At the end, you will be asked to: 1. Identify the stakeholders involved 2. Analyse the communication strategies used to manage the crisis 3. Evaluate media relations and internal communications strategies
  • 4. Singapore Zoo • Opened on 27 June 1973 and occupies 28 hectares of land • Operated by Wildlife Reserves Singapore • Displays animals in naturalistic, open exhibits with hidden barriers and moats • One of the main tourist attractions in Singapore
  • 5. Singapore Zoo • Its world-famous “open concept” offers the visitor an opportunity to experience and be inspired by the wonders of nature • It upholds a strong reputation internationally for its conservation initiatives and breeding programmes • Over 1.7 million visitors annually enjoy experiential learning journeys at the Zoo
  • 6. Introduction • On 13 November 2008, 32-year-old Mr. Nordin Montong, a Zoo cleaner, was mauled to death by two white tigers after climbing into their enclosure • Several eyewitnesses were present but conflicting testimonies were given • Some said he accidentally fell into the enclosure, while others said he had deliberately climbed into it
  • 7. Why is this a crisis? 1. Singapore Zoo is known as a worldclass attraction with top-notch safety measures. Its reputation was at stake 2. The health and behaviour of the tigers were highlighted as a concern that they are forced to display natural instincts usually only portrayed in the wild 3. Negative media attention threatened the Zoo’s reputation as well
  • 8. The public’s reaction • The public was anxious and worried that the tragic accident happened in a family-oriented attraction • A week after the incident, the Zoo said the accident was “one-off” and that the victim was “mentally unstable” in a press release • The Zoo would also step up its safety measures by installing alarms
  • 9. Disappointed tourists • The white tigers exhibit was closed for five days for the Zoo to perform health checks on the tigers after the accident • Many tourists expressed their disappointment, especially those who visited the Zoo exclusively to see the white tigers • At that time, the Zoo did not give a definite date for its reopening
  • 10. Internal communication • Close colleagues of the victim were distraught and wanted an explanation • Many experienced regret and “whatifs” as they noticed the victim’s erratic behaviour earlier in the morning
  • 11. Internal communication • The CEO personally talked to the victim’s closer colleagues to express his sympathy and offer support • However, many dissatisfied employees felt that there was not enough being done at that time to help the victim’s family
  • 12. WAZA’s inquiry • The World’s Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) made an inquiry about the enclosure of the white tigers and their mental and physical state of health after the incident • WAZA was mainly concerned about the safety of both the animals and the guests of the Zoo
  • 13. WAZA’s inquiry • WAZA asked the Zoo if any changes would be made to the enclosure • The Zoo reiterated the safety of their enclosure as there are “thick wooden railings” and a “plant-bed overhang” to prevent people from accidentally falling in • However, the Zoo stated that they cannot do anything about someone who “deliberately wants to jump in”
  • 14. WAZA’s inquiry • The Zoo also monitored the white tigers carefully in the following days after the incident • The tigers were back to their normal, physical state after about two weeks • Overall, the Zoo cooperated with WAZA in all aspects by holding meetings and active discussions
  • 15. Media relations • The crisis was magnified due to the extent of media reporting and the widespread sharing of social media • The first official media interview was scheduled two days after the incident
  • 16. Conclusion • Five years on, Singapore Zoo remains a world-class attraction with exemplary security measures in place • Its new sister company, River Safari, was recently launched in March 2013 • Its exhibits have advanced backup systems and the keepers are welltrained to attend to any emergency
  • 17. Discussion Questions 1. Identify the various stakeholders involved and prioritise them according to the Stakeholder Salience Model.
  • 18. Discussion Questions 2. Compare and contrast the different communication strategies used by the Zoo for its stakeholders and analyse their effectiveness.
  • 19. Discussion Questions 3. Refer to The New Paper’s interview with Mr. Guha. Many of the questions asked by the media were probing and accusatory. What are the media restoration strategies used to counter them and protect the Zoo’s reputation?
  • 20. Discussion Questions 4. Several employees were shell-shocked and regretful, as some of them were close to the victim. How should the zoo construct its internal communication framework to ensure the well-being of its employees and streamline its communication messages in light of this crisis?
  • 21. Suggested Activity As zoos are seen as both conservation frontiers and commercially-driven attractions, they can be often caught in between two extremes. Find other organisations which have two or more vastly different “faces”, and explain if one pole should be favoured for another in a similar crisis, or a compromise should be reached in the light of another.