On Saturday during the Philadelphia Flyers-Pittsburgh Penguins Stadium Series game at Heinz Field, seven live penguins waddled around on the ice for fans to enjoy.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals chastised the NHL for letting the penguins near fireworks, saying the animals were sent “scrambling in terror.”
Everything about this is terrible. pic.twitter.com/RRYJSDaCeh
— m g (@kikkerlaika) February 26, 2017
“It’s inherently stressful for wild animals like penguins to be hauled around, used as props, and exposed to noisy crowds, with or without explosives going off,” PETA executive vice president Tracy Reiman said in a statement. “PETA is calling for the only Penguins on the ice at Heinz Field to be humans on skates.”
The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, where the birds came from, responded to criticism by defending the use of the penguins, saying the animals’ safety is their top priority.
Tracy Gray, a spokeswoman for the Pittsburgh Zoo, said in a statement:
The penguins who attended the Winter Classic are some of the same penguins that participate in our weekend Penguins on Parade event. They are very comfortable around people and noises. In addition, it was a great enrichment opportunity for our penguins to be introduced to new sounds, sights, and smells. Keepers and our Senior Veterinarian were with the penguins at all times on the ice.
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. It was less than 10 seconds and the penguins were back to normal and exploring and playing on the ice.
Follow Trent Baker on Twitter @MagnifiTrent