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Christmas event Sidcup Sparkles slammed by animal charity

PUBLISHED: 11:16 23 November 2015 | UPDATED: 15:30 24 November 2015

A penguin

A penguin

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The Captive Animals' Protection Society say the use of live penguins in the event is detrimental to animal welfare

The organisers of a local Christmas event featuring live penguins have been slammed by an animal charity.

The Captive Animals’ Protection Society have criticised those involved with Sidcup Sparkles for the way they are exposing penguins to large crowds and noise.

Between three and five penguins will feature in an educational demonstration, but the charity argues that these kind of events are detrimental to both animal welfare and the education of children, and is calling on supporters to ask the organisers - who have shut down the event page on Facebook - to remove the penguins from the event.

Campaigns director Nicola O’Brien said: “Wild animals like penguins need very specific care, habitats and space to be able to live life to the fullest.

“Penguins used in events like this are exposed to large crowds and noise, potentially causing stress or fear.

“A busy high street with crowds and loud noises is not a suitable place for wild animals.

“As well as welfare concerns, using wild animals as a form of ‘entertainment’ sends out the wrong educational messages to the public, in particular children.

“Animals like penguins do not belong on a high street in the UK and this event does nothing to teach about conservation or respect for species and habitats.”

The charity has taken action as part of its wider campaign against the use of penguins, reindeer, camels and other animals as part of Christmas events, Rudolph’s Christmas Wish.

It says it has have received complaints in the last two weeks from members of the public on over 50 of these kind of events.

However, organisers say the show - which takes place on Sidcup High Street on December 12 - must still go on.

A spokesperson for Lollipop Events said in response: “We’ve been running these type of events for years, and we’ve had an overwhelming positive response with over 1800 local people registering for the event within a week of it being advertised.

“The welfare of the animals was our first thought when considering having this educational display and remains our priority and will be throughout the event.

“We are satisfied that the animals are well looked after – that their care meets the ‘five needs’ enshrined in the Animal Welfare Act 2006 - and that having them at our event does not harm or distress them in any way.”

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