The Pittsburgh Penguins used live penguins to help set the mood for their recent outdoor Stadium Series game against the Philadelphia Flyers at Heinz Field.
— NHL (@NHL) February 26, 2017
And while many might have seen the spectacle as both cute and cuddly, the same cannot be said for the folks at PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). Instead, the group strongly condemned the use of live animals during the show.
“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 executive vice president of PETA, said in a letter, (h/t The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). “Hockey fans come to see talented athletes compete, not shy animals terrorized.”
To PETA’s point, at one point during the show the penguins did experience what appeared to be a stressful moment that involved pyrotechnics.
Everything about this is terrible. pic.twitter.com/RRYJSDaCeh
— m g (@kikkerlaika) February 26, 2017
PETA, in the letter, asked the NHL club to “please let us know that you won’t use live animals for promotions in the future.”
The Pittsburgh Zoo, which supplied the penguins for the event, defended its decision to allow the Penguins to use the animals.
Pittsburgh Zoo statement on PETA’s letter to the Penguins/NHL regarding live penguins at the Stadium Series game: pic.twitter.com/o2VB4rNZtx
— Sam Werner (@SWernerPG) March 2, 2017
As for the team itself, a spokesperson said the team was not part of the planning for the event, which was coordinated by the NHL itself, per the report.