Dolphins and whale sharks as the Georgia Aquarium’s “assets”

The following text is a transcription of a video, which I have attempted to faithfully reproduce, of Carey Rountree, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at the Georgia Aquarium; the video is posted below the text.

As noted, Mr. Rountree’s job is marketing, so maybe I should not be surprised that

  • he relates to dolphins and whale sharks as “assets;” or that
  • he sees the swim-with-the-whale-shark program as a marketing opportunity to acquire more customers; or that
  • his first observation about their new TV show is that it will be an opportunity, first, to talk about the Georgia Aquarium, and only second, to discuss ocean mysteries, which just happens to be the title of the show.  Sounds like it should have been, The Georgia Aquarium Show and How We Intend To Create More Customers by Talking About Ocean Mysteries.  But maybe that’s just me; or that
  • dolphins are in the aquarium because they were the #1 requested animal.  I guess I don’t feel comfortable, and please forgive me, ticket-buying public, letting the market decide whether you keep animals in captivity.  That’s pretty blatantly letting the dollars do the talking instead of science; or that
  • he spins the Georgia Aquarium’s TV show as the first to be dedicated to the aquatic world.  Oh, wait.  Maybe Jacques Cousteau’s program wasn’t technically a television “show” even though the only way to watch it was on the television.

Speaking of Jacques Cousteau and the Georgia Aquarium in the same breath is secular blasphemy.  While the Georgia Aquarium’s survival depends upon keeping marine animals in captivity and getting people to come see them (or just come listen to jazz), here’s what Jacques Cousteau said about dolphins and other marine creatures living in captivity:

No aquarium, no tank in a marine land, however spacious it may be, can begin to duplicate the conditions of the sea.  And no dolphin who inhabits one of those aquariums or one of those marine lands can be considered normal.

I think it is safe to say that Jacques Cousteau, who had as his mission to communicate a love of the ocean and its life in order to protect them, knew a thing or two about marine life.  Does it not seem more than ironic that the Georgia Aquarium, which claims something like that, depends upon keeping animals in obscenely small enclosures away from their natural life?

The Georgia Aquarium is not teaching a genuine love of animals.  Whatever else, it is teaching that it is acceptable to disrespect nature.  To control it.  To see it as an asset.

I think I just vomited in my mouth.

Transcript, SVP Marketing, Georgia Aquarium:

After our success with our swim-with-the-whale-shark program, and, and, really, that was our first attempt as a team to look at marketing opportunities. It hit us right between the eyes, that every day there are five or six hundred people here that have contact with the guests coming through the Georgia Aquarium.  They also have great ideas.  Because of their work place, they see what is happening in that work place every day.  So through our training staff and through our volunteer staff, we meet on a quarterly basis to just explore new ideas.

Right after we instituted the swim-with-the-whale-shark program, we were looking at other ways to drive attendance, and the Jazz Festival happened to be in town; and one of our employees came to me and said, “You know, we could have our own Jazz Nights at the Georgia Aquarium.”  So we said, “Hey, let’s go for it.”  And so, in that first year, we, we instituted Jazz Nights every Friday from May through September, and generated more than 40,000 additional guests through the door.  So, not only, you know, did we have an idea, we implemented that idea and had tremendous success from it.  So we continue to do that on a quarterly basis: look at ideas, look at our assets, not necessarily going outside and bringing new assets in.  You can’t build a hundred and ten million dollar dolphin exhibit every month, or every six months, or even every five years.  So you’ve got to take the assets that you have, invest in those assets, develop those assets, and figure out a way to make them really productive for ya.  And that’s what we’ve been able to do with this employee group that, by quarterly just sitting down, and, and bringing their ideas out.  And much of it is information they’ve garnered from guests, talking to the guests on the floor.  That’s the way we got the dolphins.  It was the Number 1 requested animal.  But other activities, you know, that, that people want to do – our guests and our employees are the best source of information to go to and find that information.

You can’t build a hundred and ten million dollar dolphin exhibit every month, or every six months, or even every five years.  So you’ve got to take the assets that you have, invest in those assets, develop those assets, and figure out a way to make them really productive for ya.  – Carey Rountree, SVP Sales & Marketing, Georgia Aquarium

I think the success of a brand is totally dependent on separating itself out and being able to identify that unique characteristic that really puts it above any other product in the category.  And we’re at the point, we think we’re growing beyond a brand and into a property.  We’re in production right now on our own television show, which will air this September.  It’ll be, uh, an educational program.  It’ll launch, uh, September 3rd.  It’ll be on ABC every Saturday morning for 52 weeks for the next five years.  So, it’s an opportunity for us to really be in every market in the country, talking about the Georgia Aquarium.  But also, talking about ocean mysteries, which is the title of the show.  So, it’s another opportunity to get out there and really . . .  there’s never been an aquatic show like this dedicated just to the aquatic world.  We’ll be the first. We love being first.  We love being the biggest.  We love being the highest-attended in the United States.

We think that, uh, being able to differentiate yourself from your competitors is the only thing you have to do in marketing.


Take the pledge by Save Japan Dolphins, I won’t go to a dolphin show!

6 responses to “Dolphins and whale sharks as the Georgia Aquarium’s “assets”

  1. This is an excellent article! The Georgia Aquarium a marine mammals worst nightmare continues to tout their value as an educational facility. What a joke! All that can be taken away from the G.A. is how marine life behaves once imprisoned. Shame on you Georgia Aquarium for your blatant exploitation of our oceans and marine life!

  2. Thank you, Kirsten! It is shameful that a business that holds animals captive has this many words about those animals and not one was about their welfare, and how excellent conditions and care were central to their success. But at least this appears to be an honest video.

    They have dolphins because the market demanded it? If that were true, instead of educating the public why that was not a humane thing to do, they spent $110,000,000 building a an aquatic jail.

    So sad. So disappointing.

  3. Follow the Money. Why didn’t they just state that in the first place? I am ashamed that Atlanta has become a new center of animal bondage and cruelty. A shameful time for a city that claims to be progressive. There seems to be something stinking here and it is not fish.

  4. I agree whole heartedly, dolphin lover!

  5. Becky Pugh, Free the Atlanta 11

    As always Mo, very well stated, very well indeed! Could the next step in their money machine be swim with the dolphins? It’s my biggest fear!

  6. I agree. The other big nightmare is that Maris is scheduled to give birth very soon, and the Georgia Aquarium has already begun preparing us on their web page for the baby’s death.

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