14th January 2019

An event at an ice rink using live penguins was cancelled after thousands of people protested online

The announcement came after just 48 hours of online action by Freedom for Animals, our supporters and other animal lovers, calling on the event to be cancelled. Thousands sent complaint emails and tweeted the organisers, including some celebrities such as the endurance swimmer and UN Patron of the Oceans, Lewis Pugh. An online petition against the event reached nearly 5000 signatures in barely a day.

Late Thursday evening (10th January) Freedom for Animals was informed of the event due to take place on Penguin Awareness Day, the 19th January at Queens Skate in London, during which members of the public would be able to skate alongside Humboldt penguins placed in an enclosure on the ice rink.

As more reports from outraged members of the public began to flood our office on Friday morning we made contact with Queens to highlight the stress that would be caused to the penguins during transport to the venue and during the event itself. We outlined the fact that their claims of it being educational held no ground, not least because the Humboldt penguin is native to South America and inhabits islands and rocky coastlines, not ice.

Characteristically, the animals owned by suppliers to events such as these are subject to regular transportation and live in unnatural enclosures. Many are forced to perform in front of crowds, being trained in ways similar to animals in circuses.

Of particular concern was Queens’ statement that profits from the event would be donated to international bird charity, BirdLife. Freedom for Animals rapidly obtained confirmation from BirdLife that they were neither endorsing the event nor would they accept a donation from Queens on the back of such a juncture.

Plans for a protest outside the event were put together but by Saturday afternoon Queens finally ceded to the pressure and announced the cancellation of the event stating,

“Sadly due to the concerns raised by various animal protection groups including PETA & Freedom for Animals – we have had to cancel the event in the interest of the penguins & our guests.”

Freedom for Animals were quick to share the news and applauded Queens for making the right decision, however many were unhappy that Queens had stated it was ‘sad’ that the event was cancelled.

Freedom for Animals, Animals in Festive Events Campaigner, Katie Chabriere said,

“It is clear from the venue’s choice of wording that Queens do not recognise that exploiting animals under the guise of conservation is misguided. Sadly they declined to listen to our suggestions and those of the public to continue the fund and awareness raising but replace the live penguins with alternatives such as penguin dancers on ice or a documentary screening.

Using animals as props for entertainment and in public displays such as mobile zoos, circuses and events like these can never be in the animals’ interest and this is being reflected more and more strongly in the tide of public opinion.”

Thank you to everyone who took action for penguins!

But sadly this is not the end. Animals like these penguins continue to be carted around the UK for events, and we cannot end them without your support. Please join the fight for animals freedom by becoming a Freedom Champion today.