UK Shopping Center Cancels Penguin Show in Response to Petition, "Apologizes" to Public
The Touchwood Centre, a shopping destination in the UK, has held an event for the past three years featuring live Humbolt penguins, but this year animal activists put together a sucessful petition to exclude the birds from the event. Receiving 632 signatures, the petition convinced the organizers to cancel the “Penguin Encounter,” yet the response from the shopping center is very much a non-apology. In a public statement, they announce the cancellation “with great regret”:
“We had hoped to raise yet more awareness this year, but the purpose of the encounter has been misunderstood by animal rights lobbyists. We sincerely apologise for any disappointment caused to the many children and families who were due to join us for what is always an informative day.”
Firstly, referring to animal rights activists as “lobbyists” paints them as having self-serving ulterior motives, instead of the rights of the animals themselves in mind. Secondly, saying they “misunderstood” the intent of the event is akin to saying someone does not understand why an offensive joke is actually very funny. And, as for the apology, the recipient should not be the public who will be denied a few moments of relishing in animal captivity – it should be the animals themselves.
A more fitting apology could have demonstrated some self-reflection on the choice to use live animals as entertainment. A more fitting apology could have included encouraging the public to donate to reputable conservation organizations and doing so themselves. This “apology” reeks of passive aggression and self-pity for not getting what they wanted, despite what is in the best interest of the living creatures they hoped to feature.
Let this disappointing message serve as a reminder to businesses that responding to requests to consider the livelihood and experiences of animal “entertainers” should include just that. If not, be prepared to follow in SeaWorld’s footsteps.
Photo credit: Geograph