Penguin petting experience cancelled after animal rights backlash

Touchwood mall has dropped its Penguin Encounter event after criticism from animal rights campaigners Credit: BPM Media

Touchwood mall in Solihull has dropped a children’s Penguin Encounter event from its schedule after drawing criticism from animal rights campaigners.

The event which promised to ’educate and delight children’ about endangered Humboldt penguins was set to take place on December 20th but bosses scrapped plans for the event to go ahead after hundreds of people complained.

An online petition calling for the event to be dropped went viral, attracting more than 600 signatures in 24 hours.

Others took to FaceBook to vent their disapproval.

One protester wrote: "Shame on you Touchwood. You are exploiting animals for your own gains."

Another posted: "Seriously? Have some respect for these animals - they are not toys to be shunted around for entertainment value."

Touchwood announced the cancellation on its FaceBook page earlier this week. It said it had listened to the concerns expressed.

Humboldt penguins generally live in coastal Peru and Chile in South America.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of endangered species rates the species as “vulnerable” - one stage from being endangered.