Published: October 6, 2009 at 12:39 PM
First of all everything posted in response to my comments was written under the assumption that Blackstone would not place the WOD parks under Merlin.
Mr. Anonymous 188.8.131.52 writes: "If your father and sister both eat steaks for every meal, and you're a vegetarian, but both you and your sister are living in dad's house, it does not make you look shameless nor undermine your credibility.
I Respond: I do not question Merlin's (the child) credibility. I question Blackstone -- who controls Merlin. Blackstone could have changed the Merlin policy (as the owner) chooses not to. What will be open to question is Blackstone's motives (not Merlins) as to why it would support the policy within one operation but not the other? Is it money? If so it is shameless. All of this was indicated in my post.
Mr. Anonymous 184.108.40.206 writes: "The thing that WOULD undermine Blackstone's credibility is if THEY had a policy and didn't enforce it for all of the things they owned.
I Respond: I disagree. What would undermine the credibility of Blackstone is the motivation behind the decision to support the policy in one business model (in the case of Merlin a policy which claims to be in the best interest of the animals) and not to apply the same policy in another of its business models. Again, if its because they have a product that works, that they can "sell" it gives reason to question whether the reasoning behind implementing the policy is based upon an ethical standard or a dollar value. Did Blackstone allow its subsidiary to close performing animals because it met a corporate standard or because it reduced operating costs? To raise the question is IN NO WAY UNREASONABLE.
Now we come to the "charming" Mr. Anonymous 220.127.116.11, who writes: "Merlin may have a policy that will not allow show animals, Blackstone with them is just a financial backing..."
I Respond: Actually Blackstone holds majority OWNERSHIP of Merlin Entertainment meaning it retains control of the company.
Mr. Anonymous 18.104.22.168 continues: "Its going to be the same with BEC, Blackstone isnt going to buy all the BEC parks which ALL have animals, especially Sea World, there would be no point to buy the business if there are no animals to show.
I Respond: Blackstone would have majority ownership in the parks and can therefore dictate policy. There is no claim that there would be "no animals" in the parks. Rather (per the corporate standards implemented in Merlin parks) animals would not "perform" in shows. They would be in display environments and the shows would be discontinued. Not only has Blackstone/Merlin done this before, they boast about it within the text of their published corporate policy statement.
Mr. Anonymous 22.214.171.124 continues: If you think otherwise, or think that it SHOULD (my caps - THC) change, maybe you should crawl back into the hole you came from.
I Respond: I never said it "should" change. I am asking if Blackstone. Rather I am wondering if the OWNER will apply a consistent POLICY with its subsidiaries and if not "WHY NOT?" If it is for money then I would contend that Merlin's claims about its high standards for treatment of animals seems like nothing more than PR fluff.
Mr. Anonymous 126.96.36.199 continues: "Unless you visit these parks weekly, and actually see the good that they do, you dont know anything."
I Respond: I have never questioned either WOD or Merlin's treatment of their animals. Nor have contended that the use of animals as performers is somehow unethical.
Bill Wallace Writes: "I've never heard of Merlin until this moment and will have to do some research to learn about them and why they seem to forbid animal performing, but for a parent company to allow it under one sub-business (Busch) and not allow it under another (Merlin) just seems odd.
I Respond: In terms of total park attendance worldwide, Merlin is second (albeit a LONNNNNNG DISTANCE second) only to the Disney company. But here's something that may interest you. Not only does Merlin operate parks with display animals, they have taken over parks that have used animals as performers and have closed the shows.