U.K. Shop’s Plan To Display Live Penguins Sparks Outrage

Shocked animal welfare experts told the Penguin Post that Hamleys the world-famous retailer was treating the creatures as “living toys” after it advertised that live penguins and reindeer would be appearing as an after-school treat for kids.
And hundreds of animal lovers protested in emails to Hamleys, saying they were appalled at the idea of putting the wildlife into a hot and busy store as children’s entertainment. Hamleys, in central London, had advertised the animal shows on their website for next Monday, December 6. But after the protests, details of the events were quickly removed yesterday. The ads said: “Take a trip to Hamleys after school on Monday to visit our real life Penguin Pool!  “You will be able to see the penguins swim, interact with their friends and be fed at tea time!” And their reindeer event was billed as: “Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen!   “Have you ever dreamt of meeting Rudolph? Well now’s your chance to meet some of his friends!  “Come into the magic of Hamleys after school to pet and feed our REAL beautiful Mummy and Baby Reindeer.”   But UK wild animal welfare charity the Born Free Foundation yesterday said it was “shocked” at the plan.   A spokesman said: “The stress of transportation and being surrounded by hordes of people in an unnatural environment is one reason to call this stunt off.   “The totally inappropriate message that penguins and reindeer are little more than ‘living toys’ is another.” Appalled animal lovers set up a Facebook site in protest at the actions of the toy store.   And another furious poster raged on website Socialholic that the stress on the animals would be “horrendous”.   They added: “This is disgusting. It teaches children that animals are worthless and putting some through this misery for a laugh is acceptable.” A spokeswoman for the RSPCA said last night: “If the animals are cared for as they should be and their needs are met, it’s not illegal.  “But clearly extra care has to be taken in making sure animals are kept in a suitable environment and aren’t caused unnecessary stress.”  A spokeswoman for Hamleys yesterday confirmed the penguin and deer events were taking place – but then declined to comment further. 

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