GoDaddy.com CEO Bob Parsons under fire for Zimbabwe elephant-hunting video
GoDaddy.com Chief Executive Bob Parsons has been drawing angry comments and threats of boycotts and cancellations after he posted a video of him killing a problem bull elephant during a hunting expedition in Zimbabwe.
The video (viewer discretion advised due to graphic content) shows the CEO and his hunting party looking over a farmer's damaged crops, shooting at elephants at night, and Parsons posing with the dead bull. It also shows crowds of villagers field dressing the carcass the next morning.
"I kind of figured that this might happen. So be it, I'm not ashamed of what I did," Parsons, whose Scottsdale, Ariz.-based company provides domain and Web hosting services, told myFoxPhoenix Tuesday. "All these people that are complaining that this shouldn't happen, that these people who are starving to death otherwise shouldn't eat these elephants, you probably see them driving through at McDonald's or cutting a steak. These people [Zimbabwe villagers] don't have that option."
While a preponderance of the comments posted on Parsons' website blog were negative, he has his proponents.
"As long as it goes to good use as food then it's all good," posted Chad from Texas; "I'm sure local villagers appreciated the protein," wrote Alan Dean Foster of Arizona; and, from Jonathan Mackenzie of Zimbabwe, "As a Zimbabwean who has worked in ... areas where the necessity to kill [rogue] animals takes place I appreciate your actions regardless of your motivations."
Parsons posts an explanation on his hunts -- this was his second -- to take out problem elephants:
I spend a few weeks in Zimbabwe each year helping the farmers deal with problem elephants. The people there have very little, many die each year from starvation and one of the problems they have is the elephants, of which there are thousands and thousands, that trash many of their fields destroying the crops. The tribal authorities request that I and others like me, patrol the fields before and during the harvest -- we can't cover them all, there are just a few of us -- and drive the elephant from the fields. The farmers try to run the elephants away by cracking whips, beating drums and lighting fires. All of this is ignored by the elephants. When my team catch elephants in a field (there are never just one) we typically kill one of them and the rest leave for good. After we kill an elephant the people butcher the elephant and it feeds a number of villages. These people have literally nothing and when an elephant is killed it's a big event for them, they are going to be able to eat some protein. This is no different than you or I eating beef. If at all possible we avoid elephant cows and only kill mature bulls. By just killing bulls it has no effect on the elephant social structure (as it is matriarchal) as well as the herd size. The reason is another bull quickly steps up and breeds in place of the bull taken.
Parsons said that the hunts and helping the starving villagers is the most rewarding of everything he does, and that he hopes to go again next year.
-- Kelly Burgess
Photo: GoDaddy CEO and founder Bob Parsons, right, and his wife Renee pose on the red carpet at a recent event. Credit: Roy Dabner / European Pressphoto Agency