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Nov 30, 2011

Raising the profile of gorillas

Raising the profile of western lowland gorillas at home and abroad

In September 2008 Bristol Zoo had two significant events involving the gorillas: 1) The arrival of a young orphan gorilla from an ape nursery in Germany on September 8th. 2) The launch of two gorilla webcams; one overlooking Gorilla Island, and another inside the gorilla house.

In August it became clear that the two events were likely to coincide due to delays in the arrival of Kera. The PR potential for both events was significant but it was important to manage the situation carefully in order to maximise PR opportunities (and ensure the stories were not combined by the press), ensure our key messages were delivered and to allow Kera to settle in.

It was also recognised that each opportunity could be used to reinforce the other. It was vital that Kera’s arrival was handled sensitively and not leaked to the press before a suitable settling-in period had elapsed. However, ITV West had funded the installation of the webcams and was keen to get them ‘live’ ASAP. But if the indoor camera went live it could broadcast Kera’s existence, as well as highly sensitive mixing times between her and the other gorillas, and the story could leak.

We explained the situation confidentially to ITV and agreed to go live with the outdoor camera on September 5th, shortly before Kera’s arrival, and delay the indoor camera until December. Kera would not be venturing outside for some months so we were certain that the launch of the outdoor camera would not impact on her.

Bristol Zoo Gardens

WINNER of BIAZA Award 2009 for Best public relations project

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