Penguins on Parade

MCFC penguins

Every now and then I come across things where I just can’t quite belive it to be true. This is one such thing.

Before I owned a house and having children I was a huge Manchester City fan, travelling home and away to watch them, long before the current glory days! Sadly my love affair waned as the spiralling cost of football coupled with the acquisition of a mortgage meant that my season ticket was given up.

But, I still follow the results as and when I can and they will always be my team. I didn’t think that MCFC would ever ever disappoint me as much as they have this weekend.

If you’ve been to a football match or two then you will know that they are quite noisy affairs and lots of people milling around the ground outside and within the concourses in the ground. There’s usually lots of people who have been for a drink or two beforehand. Lots of noise and activity. On Saturday just gone, the game at The Ethiad (MCFC v Crystal Palace) had an attendance of just over 45,000.

Football stadiums are often scary and intimidating places for people. Lots of crowds etc, Daniel and Emma will go to football, in due course, but for now, the atmosphere is too charged, too noisy, too volatile to contemplate them going.

So… I struggle to even begin to imagine the meeting that took place at MCFC that led to five live penguins being present at the game as part of the pre-match ‘entertainment’. I simply do not understand who thought that bringing five live penguins, to a football ground, was a good idea. I have tried to almost rationalise it by trying to find the link, but I just can’t – there isn’t even the most tenuous of links to penguins – I can’t even find a British team with a penguin as a mascot, none of our star players have a link to penguins. I just don’t get it. The fact that someone said, let’s get penguins, it was discussed, it was agreed, it was signed off and it was paid for. A lot of people agreed this. Did no one, at any stage think this was just wrong?

It was billed on the City website as part of ‘seasonal activities as a gift, from the club.’ The full text is below (or here)

Five live penguins, four presenters, three points on offer, two live bands and Father Christmas in City Square…

The festive spirit has taken over at City Square, and five penguins are making a special appearance as part of a host of seasonal activities as our gift to you in the last match before the big day itself.

We’ve even signed Father Christmas for the day, so bring the whole family for some last minute present requests from the man himself. There’s also an inflatable snow globe, and we’re giving you a (blue and) white Christmas at City Square with a snow machine – come down and grab a festive picture.

If that doesn’t get you in the mood for a football match what will? I know that on the walk to the ground in the past our routine was to park up, get a drink from the shop, stop for pre match chips, have a chat, predict the result and then go in. Clearly what was missing was to watch the performing animals. I know it would have totally enhanced my football going experience.

I’m sure that the 45,000 people attending were pleased that the penguins were able to make a ‘special appearance’ as a ‘gift’ from the multimillion pound football club. I think supporters would probably have preferred cheaper tickets, but there you go. I can’t tell you how incensed the vine of the performing penguins makes me.

Who seriously looks at that vine and thinks those poor penguins are ‘enjoying themselves’ I’m not a penguin expert so can’t tell you what type of penguin they are, but I know enough to know that penguins don’t naturally sit in a small pen on a concrete concourse for the pleasure of p*issed up football fans. Penguins are probably a bit happier near water (where they can hunt for food) and away from noisy football fans, traffic etc.

Emperor Penguin

I have tweeted MCFC who, for whatever reason, have chosen to ignore my tweets. I wanted to give them opportunity to explain why they had live penguins. I expected the usual nonsense about ensuring their welfare etc. However as they declined to reply I can’t accurately say where they ‘hired’ the penguins from.

My guess is that they most probably came from a mobile zoo of some sort. For those who don’t know, mobile zoos are simply awful. They are unregulated. Even if the penguins are looked after to the absolute best possible standard (which I don’t believe to be possible), the penguins will as a minimum have been transported. Regular transportation is known to be a cause of stress for animals. This will have caused stress to the penguins made to perform on Saturday.

If you were at The Ethiad on Saturday and enjoyed getting up close to the penguins I am sure it was an exciting experience. But please please please remember that for the penguins forced to perform and stand there for your entertainment this was most probably frightening and stressful. These five penguins who were oh so cute on Saturday face a LIFETIME of being transported from place to place, living in conditions that are not natural to them and will caused them a lifetime of stress. You have legitimized and contributed to this.

For other information about Mobile Zoos and the such please take a look at this site.

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