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Outrage at Hamleys' live penguin and reindeer show plans

The famous toy store has announced plans to bring live penguins and reindeer into its London store for childrens’ entertainment.

Image: Pablo Municio via Flickr/Creative Commons

ONE OF THE world’s biggest toy stores has sparked controversy by announcing plans to bring live penguins and reindeer into its flagship London store.

Hamleys had advertised the event on its website, however the details were quickly removed after animal lovers condemned the plans and accused the retailer of using live creatures as “living toys”, The Sun reports.

The ads read:

Take a trip to Hamleys after school on Monday to visit our real life Penguin Pool! You will be able to see the penguins swim, interact with their friends and be fed at tea time!

And:

Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen! Have you ever dreamt of meeting Rudolph? Well now’s your chance to meet some of his friends! Come into the magic of Hamleys after school to pet and feed our REAL beautiful Mummy and Baby Reindeer.

Animal lovers have set up a Facebook page called Ten Reasons why Hamleys shouldn’t use real penguins in protest against the plans.

UK wild animal welfare charity the Born Free Foundation has said it is “shocked” by the plans, and added that “the stress of transportation and being surrounded by hordes of people in an unnatural environment” should be enough to encourage Hamleys to call of the event.

A spokesman for Hamleys said the animals’ welfare would be a priority. He added:

The penguins come from a very happy environment, are used to human contact and every step is taken to ensure for the few hours they are with us that they are in appropriate surroundings. This is about the magic of Christmas for many children who otherwise may never get to see these animals at close quarters.

The Zoological Society of London tweeted that London Zoo was not providing the penguins.

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