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October 5, 2015



Editorials, letters, columns and other opinions

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A Thoughtful Approach to Animal Welfare

Tourism is among
our regions leading
business sectors,
and SeaWorld San
Diego has been
a centerpiece of
that sector for 50
years. SeaWorld has
existed alongside
the San Diego
Reo Carr
Zoo and the San
Diego Zoo Safari Park as a zoological
trifecta giving visitors an opportunity to
experience wildlife in settings unmatched
anywhere in the world.
SeaWorld along with the San
Diego Zoo has supported extensive
research that is recognized worldwide
for understanding, protecting and
appreciating wildlife for an ever more
urban global population increasingly
separated from the natural world.
SeaWorld continues to this day at its
own considerable expense a tradition
of providing care for injured and
stranded marine mammals, which like
much of the research it sponsors, takes
place with little public recognition.
But times have changed. It is no
secret that SeaWorld is the focus of
intense public controversy over their
care and treatment of the marine
mammals in their charge, most
particularly the orcas, or killer whales.
Public attitudes about animals in
captivity are clearly shifting.
Amid this dynamic, SeaWorld is
working to preserve its business and
adapt to emerging public opinion about
animal welfare. This is no easy task.
Among the proposed changes SeaWorld
has undertaken is a substantial increase
in the size of the seawater tanks that are
home to the orcas. The California Coastal
Commission must approve this change.
Commission staff has recommended
approval. The full Coastal Commission is
scheduled to vote on the matter this week.
In preparing this column, I visited
SeaWorld and was given unfettered
access to the park. I witnessed their sea
mammal conservation work and spoke
at length with executives and staff.

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While at the park, I had a chance

encounter with a group of young
children transfixed by an encounter
with an orca as they experienced the
powerful beauty and majesty of nature.
I also visited Safari Park and the
Poway Rodeo to give consideration
to how animals are treated in other
The more I looked into this issue,
the more it felt like I was looking at it
through a prism. Each time I turned
the prism to study the issue from a
different angle, the light changed.

Shifting Attitudes
Ive spoken with many members of
the public about this matter. In sifting
through their comments, their views
could be grouped as follows:
The Absolutists: They believe no
animals should be held in captivity
(for some this included domesticated
animals such as cats and dogs). These
were by far the fewest in number.
The Sympathizers: They are
receptive to the messages of the
absolutists but reject the forceful
imposition of these beliefs on the
population as a whole.
The Thoughtful: They are aware
of and are considering the issue but
are still weighing the issue. They are
most likely to question mixing animals
and for-profit businesses, so they may
hold for-profit SeaWorld to a different
standard than the nonprofit San Diego
Zoo, for example.
The Pragmatists: They see a
beleaguered mother nature sagging
under the weight of a growing
global population. They see the
experience SeaWorld offers to the
public, especially young people, as
essential in driving an appreciation for
nature. For them, a video of an orca
is not nearly as impactful as seeing
one in real life. For the pragmatist
the sacrifice of a few animals held
in captivity for the education and
enlightenment of millions of humans
is worth the tradeoff. Pragmatists
also cite the research underwritten by

SeaWorld, the San Diego Zoo and

others that is funded in part by the gate
receipts as being of immense value in
preserving wildlife. Taken together,
the Thoughtfuls and Pragmatists
represented, by far, the largest group.
The Allies: They are the
unapologetic supporters of SeaWorld
and zoological parks. Comprised
largely of people with close
connections to the business, they cite
the expert care and feeding captive
animals receive. They note that captive
animals are as likely to live as long as
animals in the wild. They see immense
benefit in bringing people together with
animals in a park setting to establish
to and strengthen a connection with
the natural world. They too reference
the value of the educational experience
these parks facilitate and the research
funded by these organizations.


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Reo Carr 858-277-1740

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The Vote and the Voice

Were I a voting member of the
Coastal Commission, I would follow
the staff recommendation and vote
in favor of SeaWorlds proposed
expansion. It will improve the living
environment for the orcas and give
the public more viewing access to
the marine mammals. Denying the
application will not end the captivity of
orcas or put SeaWorld out of business.
Were I a member of the board of
directors overseeing SeaWorld, I would
urge the board and executives to join
with other members of the larger
zoological community to take very visible
thought-leadership of the issue of animal
welfare and to actively engage a public
increasingly interested in this issue. This
is not to ignore the outreach efforts
already underway. However, the voice of
the responsible, educated, professional
zoological community is lost against
the backdrop of a restive public stirred
by aggressive, high-profile criticism of
business as usual in the captivity of
animals for public presentation.
Reo Carr is Executive Editor of the
San Diego Business Journal. He can be
reached via

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Consumers Demand Purpose-Driven Capitalism

In May 2015, the
University of San
Diegos Center for
Peace and Commerce held San
Diegos inaugural
Conscious Capitalism event focused
on purpose-driven
companies and
Shannon McCrary
strategies. The
shifting global economy, favoring purpose-driven or for-benefit organizations, will give consumers power such
as never before to measure and determine their patronage based on how a
company gives back.
To maintain their competitive edge,
the rising tide of business will require
companies to add or integrate a triple
bottom-line strategy, otherwise known
as people, planet, and profit. This
strategy will also include a significant
impact on employee engagement within
a companys culture, because part of

adopting a triple bottom-line strategy

involves a greater emphasis on treatment of people as a whole, both internally and when interacting with customers.
The opportunity cost for the business
community is compelling. Recent values-based consumer spending data has
demonstrated that implementation of a
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
strategy to a companys new or existing
business model has shown in many cases
to result in an increase of customer loyalty, sales and a more sustainable business.
CSR, a term coined by Howard
Bowen in the 1950s, only began to gain
traction in the 1980s and 1990s when
companies noticed that adherence to
social and environmental governance
positively impacted their bottom line.
The latest in CSR measures a companys effectiveness using purpose to drive
business decisions and strategies.
Cone Communications 2015 Global
CSR Study determined 90 percent of
consumers are likely to switch brands

to one associated with a good cause,

given comparable price and quality. So
while nine in 10 consumers expect a
company to do more than turn a profit,
only 20 percent of brands worldwide
are seen to meaningfully and positively
impact peoples lives.
It boils down to this: People want
to make a difference, to be connected
to something bigger than themselves,
and they want to know businesses
care, demonstrated through empathetic behavior and practices. The rise of
technological advances, and decline in
human interaction, has made faceto-face connections a more precious
commodity. Empathy truly has become
a critical competency. According to
TTI Success Insights, the North American empathy average is 3.6 on a scale
of 1-10. Herein lies yet another tremendous opportunity gap for the San
Diego business community to act. The
real test will be making it genuine.

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Capitalism page 45

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