|Captive Wolf Headed For Deadwood|
Good Grief, Do We Need This?
(photo from www.argusleader.com)
In terms of its addition to Deadwood's overall marketing schemata, this idea also stinks at that level. Can you imagine the public reaction if the company's Deadwood facility looks anything like the animal confinement camp the company maintains in Minnesota, pictured below? Good grief, Deadwood, get a grip. Widely disseminated pictures like this you don't need. I've got interests in the tourism business, out by the Badlands, and I'll be the first to acknowledge (and thank) Deadwood for the nice boost they give to all of western South Dakota's tourism venues. People may be destined for Deadwood, but they make plenty of stops along the way, a fact that gives all of us a stake in the fortunes of that amalgam of fun and history in "the gulch." A confinement full of creatures taken out of their natural elements and presented to folks as cute little pettable things doesn't have much marketing appeal in this day and age, when even stalwart attractions like Sea World have to deal with widespread criticism of its confining practices. That the venerable Bear Country U.S.A. attraction in the Black Hills has managed to escape this kind of attention probably says a lot for the maintenance of a decent habitat with plenty of space for the attraction's denizens. But just 17 acres allotted for the captive wolves these people want to bring to Deadwood? Depending on breed, a wolf pack's territory can range anywhere from 38 to 1,000 square miles.
You don't have to be an animal rights activist to recoil at the prospect of these wide ranging animals confined to just a few measly acres so people can pet them for profit. Petter
|Terri Petter's Facility In Minnesota|
"Don't Fence Me In"
(photo from Rapid City Journal, 5/18/15)
Whether or not the "front for a fur farm" label is justified, Deadwood officials and business types should give the prospect of this facility a hard look. For a city that depends on image as the core of its marketing program, an attention-getting, controversy-creating blot like this can only be a harm. And if it harms Deadwood, it harms the whole tourism industry out here. Legal grounds for the petting zoo may well exist, but the sideshow that comes with it will be unpleasant, distracting, and likely to tarnish the area's reputation. Just look at what's happened to Sea World and its investors since the controversy over its captive whales has erupted. The company lost $25 million during the fourth quarter of 2014 and its stock is down by a third during the past 12 months. My abhorrence of this as an animal lover notwithstanding, my instincts and experience as an entrepeneur sense trouble ahead for business. Based on what's happening at Sea World, I'd say it has all the makings of a potential public-relations catastrophe.
We don't need it, Ms. Petter--please take a hike
Addendum: added 5/20 @1810 hrs: South Dakota regulators (the Animal Industry Board) today gave Petter a permit to set up her confinement but denied her application to make it a petting zoo on advice from a state veterinarian who cautioned against human contact with these animals. Petter calls this "great news" and claims "we can still educate," which is "what we wanted to do all along." The AIB refused to listen to any testimony about how Petter's organization maintains its facility in Minnesota. Here are some recent TripAdvisor reviews about the Minnesota facility. Here's the AP story on today's hearing.