To entertain fans before a Pittsburgh Penguins game on Saturday, the National Hockey League thought it would be fun to bring some real penguins onto the ice to slide and waddle around between miniature hockey nets.
The organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) felt differently.
— NHL (@NHL) February 26, 2017
Spokespeople for the animal rights groups expressed their displeasure in an open letter to the team that was published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Among their concerns was the use of a pyrotechnic explosion, which appeared to frighten the penguins.
Everything about this is terrible. pic.twitter.com/RRYJSDaCeh
— m g (@kikkerlaika) February 26, 2017
“It’s inherently stressful for wild animals — who naturally shun contact with humans and are extremely sensitive to environmental changes — to be hauled around, used as props, and exposed to noisy crowds, with or without explosives going off,” Tracy Reiman, the organization’s vice president, wrote.
The cute and cuddly creatures had been borrowed from the Pittsburgh Zoo. The zoo quickly released a response defending its care of the animals, saying that the penguins’ well-being is their top priority and, having been exposed to other people-filled events, the birds are “comfortable around people and noises.”
Veterinarians and trained keepers were present throughout the festivities and the zoo suggested that penguins are “enriched” by exposure to new sounds, sights and smells.
“The loud pop from the pyro technical display temporarily startled the penguins and their first reaction, similar to a human’s when started, they flapped their wings,” the statement read. “It was less than 10 seconds and the penguins were back to normal and exploring and playing on the ice.”
The human penguins went on to win the outdoor Stadium Series game against the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2 and declined to comment on the penguins’ appearance, standing behind the zoo’s statement.
The treatment of animals in captivity has long been a topic for heated debate. Some animal activists claim it’s not possible to humanely contain and exhibit creatures meant to be in the wild, while others feel captivity is the only way to educate the human population about the importance of conservation, conduct wildlife research, and maintain populations with supervised breeding.
Either way, teams with animal mascots will likely always be in a bit of a pickle. At least the Ottowa Senators could use this sort of pregame entertainment.
It would be way less cute, but PETA would be happy.
Next, take a look at scientists’ plan to save the Arctic by “refreezing” it. Then, learn about these 21 fascinating arctic animals you can find in the North Pole