Penguins exploited as shopping centre ignores thousands of complaints

What comes to mind when you think ‘Black Friday?’ Crowded shopping centres? Busy people rushing around? Shoppers eager to grab the next bargain? What about wild penguins on display among all this?


How can this pen serve the needs of wild animals?

Last Friday at 4pm, this is what happened at the Idlewells Shopping Centre.  As part of Black Friday, four penguins were put on display for shoppers to watch and take photos of.

Prior to the event CAPS, other campaign organisations and local people complained to the Shopping Centre Manager, Chloe O’Donnel, who was sent thousands of complaints via email and social media.

The centre’s response was to issue a standard reply which did not address the ethical concerns that many have with using wild animals in this way. It also appeared that any complaints posted on the facebook page of the centre were deleted and CAPS received reports that some people were being blocked from leaving polite comments.

The event went ahead with the penguins being held in a small fenced off area inside the centre. They were on display to the public for four hours and the only retreat they had was a small tent. They were also given a small purple ‘pool’, with clearly not enough water to cover their bodies.

Humboldt penguins inhabitat the coast of Chile and Peru. They would spend many hours of the day hunting in the ocean for small fish to eat and can swim to depths of 150m. How does a life in captivity compare?

Compassionate local people held a demonstration outside the centre, handing out leaflets urging people not to go and see the penguins and to complain to the Centre Manager. On tablets and laptops, they also played the CAPS campaign video “Rudolph’s Christmas Wish” which you can view here.

Shoppers spoke to protesters, took leaflets and many agreed that having penguins in a shopping centre was wrong. One witnesses at the event claimed,

“The penguins seemed confused and not sure what to do. The only escape they had was a tiny tent that opened up right on to the crowd so was hardly a retreat – I felt so sorry for them”.

Throughout our research to discover these events we have come across some wonderful Christmas events without the use of animals such as lantern parades, Santa’s grottos, ice rinks and so much more. Please help us encourage event organisers to choose these animal-free options.

penguin2Take Action!

The event may be over but that does not mean we cannot help animals!

Send your complaint and ask them the centre to not book animal events in future: 

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