On Thursday, PETA — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals — sent a letter to Pittsburgh Penguins president and CEO David Morehouse, criticizing the team and the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium for using live penguins during pregame festivities before the game.
Specifically, PETA took exception with a video clip that went viral, showing a group of penguins flinching and scampering in confusion after a fireworks display at the stadium
Everything about this is terrible. pic.twitter.com/RRYJSDaCeh— m g (@kikkerlaika) February 26, 2017
The Pittsburgh Zoo responded Thursday afternoon in a statement, discounting many of PETA’s claims.
“The loud pop from the pyrotechnical display temporarily startled the penguins and their first reaction similar to a human’s when startled, they flapped their wings,” the statement reads, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “It was less than 10 seconds and the penguins were back to normal and exploring and playing on the ice.”
PETA pointed out that the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium “is no longer accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums” and therefore “no longer has to maintain the AZA’s minimal standards or care for penguins and other animals.”
“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,” John Di Leonardo, a campaigner for PETA, wrote in the letter to Morehouse. “Hockey fans come to see talented athletes compete, not shy animals terrorized.”
The Pittsburgh Zoo said the penguins that participated in Saturday’s pregame entertainment were the same penguins that appear in the Penguins on Parade event, which allows the public to view the animals every Saturday and Sunday from late November through the end of February.
“They are very comfortable around people and noises,” they also claimed in their statement.
You have to admit the little guys did seem a little startled by the loud boom (who usually isn't) but it still can't be as scary as being stranded on an ice floe, staring down the mouth of a killer whale.