An event letting Londoners ice-skate beside real penguins due to happen on Saturday January 19 has been cancelled after more than 4,000 people signed a petition against the ice rink’s plans.
Queens Skate Dine Bowl in Bayswater invited people to ‘skate alongside’ five Humboldt penguins to mark Penguin Awareness Day and raise money for BirdLife International. Tickets would let guests ‘meet [the] cute penguins and their expert handlers on Queens’ legendary ice rink’ with a purpose-built pen installed on the rink to hold the birds, surrounded by ‘a hip-height barrier for safety’. It advertised the event with a picture of four Emperor penguins waddling across the rink.
The ice rink announced on Saturday that the event has been cancelled after animal welfare groups including Peta, Born Free Foundation and the RSPCA expressed concerns about animal welfare and 4,644 people signed a petition urging the organisers not to use real penguins at the event.
Queens Skate Dine Bowl said in a statement: ‘The event was intended as a non-profit, educational and accessible experience to increase awareness and education about this beloved sea bird. Significant amounts of money were to be raised for BirdLife International, helping penguins who are endangered in their natural habitat. Sadly due to the concerns raised by various animal protection groups – including Peta and Freedom for Animals – we have had to cancel the event in the interest of the penguins and our guests. We thank you for your support and shared excitement about this event.’
In another complex turn of events, BirdLife International said in a statement on Twitter: ‘We are not involved with the event ourselves, nor are we promoting or endorsing it. We have strongly advised [Queens] to change the event from its current format, and have declined the offer of a donation while the show uses live penguins.’
Find (live animal-free) ideas of things to do in London with our January guide.
Appreciate animals in their natural habitat with our guide of where to spot wildlife in London year-round.