Darlington Christmas Event Under Fire for Cruel Plans to Feature Live Penguins

For Immediate Release:

16 December 2015


Jennifer White +44 (0) 20 7837 6327, ext 222; [email protected]


PETA Calls On Darlington Council to Keep Live Animals out of Holiday Festivities

Darlington – This morning, PETA campaign coordinator Kirsty Henderson sent a letter to Bill Dixon, Leader of the Darlington Borough Council encouraging him to cancel plans to use live penguins in a scheduled Christmas-themed event later this week.

In the letter, PETA – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment” – notes that a busy commercial centre filled with noisy shoppers, bright lights and excited children is an entirely unsuitable environment for penguins. Contact with people is something they normally avoid, and they’ll be unnecessarily subjected to the stress of travel. The group also points to the kind decision made by famed London toyshop Hamleys to cancel its plans to feature live penguins after a public outcry.

“Using live animals in these sorts of events sends a damaging message to young people that animals are little more than living props” says Kirsty Henderson PETA campaign co-ordinator . “There are many other ways that the people of Darlington could celebrate the holidays that would be far more in keeping with this season of goodwill than by treating scared animals like Christmas decorations.”

Henderson’s letter follows. For more information, please visit PETA.org.uk.


 Bill Dixon

Council Leader

Darlington Council

16 December 2015

Vie e-mail: [email protected]

Dear Councillor Dixon,

I am writing on behalf of PETA UK – an affiliate of PETA US, which is the largest animal rights organisation in the world and has more than 3 million members and supporters – to urge you to cancel plans to use real penguins at Darlington Christmas Market on 19 December, and to adopt a policy against having live animals at future festivities in Darlington.

Anyone who has seen the beautiful film March of the Penguins would find this publicity stunt to be disrespectful, out of touch and tragic. As the movie illustrates, these fascinating birds have a rich, free life and do not deserve to be exploited as holiday “props”, kept in enclosures and denied all that’s natural and important to them, such as swimming and catching fish.

A busy commercial centre such as Darlington, filled with noisy shoppers, bright lights and excited children, is an entirely unsuitable environment for penguins or any other animals. These beautiful animals live almost exclusively in the Southern Hemisphere.

The practice of taking penguins out on the road, putting them in pens and treating them as if they were living Christmas ornaments that exist merely for our “entertainment”, is unacceptable, and Darlington should not be supporting such an unethical and abusive industry.

Penguins have nothing to do with Christmas, and ending their use would do nothing to diminish children’s sense of the magic of the holiday season. For the animals, however, it would make a world of difference. During this season of goodwill, we urge you to follow the recent examples of famed London toy shop Hamleys and Nottingham’s Intu Broadmarsh shopping centre, both of which cancelled plans to include penguins in their Christmas promotions after a public outcry, and refrain from featuring similar displays in the future. There are many other ways that your customers can celebrate this festive season that would not compromise the well-being of animals.

Please make the humane decision not to use live animals at this event and also commit to avoiding future events that promote the exploitation of animals.

Thank you for your attention to this urgent matter. We hope to inform our members that Darlington will cancel plans for the penguin event.

Yours sincerely,

Kirsty Henderson

Campaign Coordinator