Earlier this week, I shared the story of the bizarre and brazen theft of a shark from the San Antonio Aquarium. Today, I heard a new development which struck me as even more bizarre and more disturbing. The accused thief (well, "admitted" actually) is claiming that he is not a thief, but a hero - that he is activist who stole the shark to rescue it from the aquarium. Purportedly, he posed as a contractor to gain behind-the-scenes access to the aquarium to scope it out before pulling off the theft.
I don't buy it.
Not the part where he lied his way behind-the-scenes. That I can totally picture. But the part where, if he had as few as two brain cells to rub together, that he thought this was remotely a good idea to help the shark. The animal was put at great risk as it was snatched from its enclosure and rushed out of the facility where it was housed. It could easily have been killed during this idiotic escapade.
What do we learn from this? Obviously, we see that people can be stupid, but we already knew that. Instead, I am reminded on how important it is that we strike the appropriate balance between transparency, allowing the public to see and understand how we manage the animals under our care, and protecting our image. It's too easy for something to be seen or photographed, passed around the web, and then misinterpreted, viewed in a damaging light.
Thankfully, the San Antonio incident has proven to be a farce rather than the tragedy that it could have been. I'd say maybe next time could be different... but hopefully there won't be a "next time."
I wish I could believe that...