PETA And The Pittsburgh Zoo Are Beefing Over The NHL’s Use Of Real Penguins

When the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers played at Heinz Field on Saturday night (in one of those NHL outdoor games that were cool seven years ago but are worn out now), to spice things up, the league OK’d having real live tiny penguins on a tiny rink next to the big rink. There were seven in all, and they were named after six Penguins players and their coach.

Totes adorbs, right? What could possibly go wrong with this idea?

Well, setting off fireworks a few feet from penguins is going to freak them out.

Four days after this incident — which speaks to how little anyone pays attention to hockey-related things in the United States — PETA got around to sending a letter to the Penguins organization about the penguins. From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

“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 fired back, seeing as how they house the penguins there and while PETA got mad at the Penguins, outdoor games are NHL-run events, so someone at the league office decided on the penguins thing.

“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 pyro technical 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,” the statement said.

“Similar to a human’s when startled” is very good shade. You can’t write “This is NBD so get over it PETA” so you mention a human would flinch at fireworks and immediately get over it. Nice stuff.

Anyway, no penguin died or pooped itself because of the explosion, so I think we can all move forward. Hopefully, this won’t prevent the NHL from having seven live bears in an adjacent rink the next time the Bruins play an outdoor game.

(Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)