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April 01, 2011

GoDaddy.com CEO Under Fire for Killing African Elephant

Godaddy.com CEO Bob Parsons has convinced himself that he’s a humanitarian. I think he’s got a long way to go before he lives up to that self-billing. He’s in the news today because he traveled to Zimbabwe recently to shoot an elephant for a trophy and then released a video in which he is happily grinning over his conquest. Now the man known for racy Super Bowl ads is spinning his version of the event and trying to morph this selfish act of slaughter into some selfless act of charity.

He shot the elephant at night, and claims it was a “problem elephant.” It happened to be a bull elephant with sizeable tusks, just the type that trophy hunters like to kill. He seems to be a rather obsessive trophy hunter; one other self-produced video on the web shows him wounding and later killing a leopard, and the current edition of Safari Club International's magazine shows an array of animal heads mounted on his wall as trophies.

African elephant
iStockphoto
African elephants in Zimbabwe are threatened
with extinction.

If he wants to help the people of Africa, I suggest he spend a day with Oprah Winfrey or Bill Gates and learn how real charitable work on the continent is done. They’ve invested of their time and considerable wealth to promote education, housing, nutrition, and public health. And last time I checked, they didn’t leave a trail of animal victims they’ve personally slain at the end of their visit. If he wants to help people keep elephants out of crop fields, he should fund the building of solar-powered fences like those successfully used for this purpose in neighboring South Africa. My guess is Mr. Parsons went to Africa to shoot an elephant, and perhaps some other creatures, and then tried to find some high-sounding rationale for his gambit.

I’ve heard this kind of excuse-making from trophy hunters before. In fact, in my book, The Bond, to be released on April 5, I recount the rhetorical gymnastics and whitewashing of a killing spree also in southern Africa by trophy hunter Ken Behring, who shot several endangered elephants in one of his safaris. Like Parsons, he claimed he did the killing for the good of the community, identifying the animals as "problem elephants." It turns out that wildlife authorities in Mozambique had a different take on the matter, and they wanted Ken Behring to leave their country without delay. 

HSUS has about 650 domain names with Godaddy.com. I’ve instructed our staff to find another host for them. We don’t like doing business with a company with a leader like Parsons. I hope you’ll think about following suit. No one needs to kill elephants either to show his manhood or to do humanitarian work.

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