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Dublin: 15°C Thursday 18 August 2022

Toy shop cancels live penguin and reindeer shows

Famous toy shop Hamleys has cancelled live reindeer and penguins shows planned for its central London store after a public backlash.

Image: Darren Hector

Updated at 14.05pm

FAMOUS TOY STORE Hamleys has announced that it will not bring live penguins into it London stop as planned, after a fierce public backlash.

In a statement on the shop’s Facebook page, Hamelys said:

Hamleys’ recognises having penguins in store has raised concerns amongst some of its customers and, as a result, we have decided to cancel their proposed appearance next week. Whilst we were taking every measure possible to ensure the welfare of the penguins, we have listened closely to people’s views and feel this is the best course of action.

The store had brought reindeer into its Regent Street store yesterday. It has clarified that the reindeer will also be removed.

No plans had been made to being animals into Hamleys’ store in Dublin.

Although the company had initially maintained silence in the face of the objection, yesterday it released a statement yesterday on its Facebook page to say it would carry on with the original plans. Hamleys insisted that the welfare of the animals is “paramount” and added:

The penguins will be in a large, highly controlled, environment, where no-one is able to touch the animals and their expert handlers are present at all times.

It added that the aim of the event was to educate children about the lifestyles and habitats of wild creatures and to celebrate the “magic of Christmas”.

However, those concerned with animal rights flatly condemned bringing arctic and antarctic animals into a heated, busy, central-London store.

A leading figure in the campaign is distinguished wildlife photographer Darren Hector, who posted photographs of the reindeer event on his blog under the title ‘The saddest pictures I have ever seen’.

Exploitation or Christmas cheer?

Hector condemned the event as a PR stunt which aimed to bring live animals into the shop “in the name of profits”. He also raised questions about how the reindeer had been transported to the store through city traffic and atrocious weather. Hector said a member of staff at Hamleys had confirmed the reindeer had been spent six hours “in a horse box on a motorway” in an attempt to reach the location.

Hector rubbished the company’s claims that it was attempting to educate children about animals, pointing out that on its website Hamleys claims penguins are “from the North Pole“. He writes: “They are claiming this stunt is to educate kids – do you want them educating yours?”

As the public backlash gained pace, popular radio DJ Chris Evans began running a poll on whether penguins should be brought into the store - to which an overwhelming 74 per cent of people have voted ‘No’.

Bloggers also blasted the plans; commercial and charity lawyer James Barisic called Hamley’s “the world’s most appalling toy store”.

Blog 10,000 Birds said:

Which ‘prestigious’ London toyshop has forgotten that a) penguins are live animals not stuffed toys, b) that we’re no longer in Victorian times, and c) that putting penguins into a crowded very hot toy store in the midst of a typical mindless Christmas shopping crowd is not good animal welfare?

Hamleys has maintained that it had used “the services of a highly respected, professional organisation who have been working with animals” to make sure the animals are properly cared for throughout their time in the store. The company said that it has liaised with both Westminster Council’s Animal Welfare team and the RSPCA to ensure the animals are properly cared for.

What do you think? Is it all just a bit of Christmas fun – or are the animals being exploited?

Toy shop cancels live penguin and reindeer shows
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  • Image via Darren Hector

  • Image via Darren Hector

  • Reindeer in Hamleys

  • Image via Darren Hector

  • Image via Darren Hector

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