SeaWorld was all set to celebrate its 50th anniversary at a swank restaurant in Manhattan's meat-packing district, but its decision to feature two live penguins walking around like they're waiters put the kibosh on that whole endeavor.
Turns out the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) got ahold of an invitation to the shindig alerting everyone that "animal ambassadors" Pete and Penny Penguin would be in attendance at the party held at Bagatelle restaurant.
SeaWorld exploiting animals for the benefit of entertaining people and bringing attention to themselves? OUTRAGEOUS!
The invitation is an exercise in irony, if there ever was one, reading:
"Join us for an evening of surprises, hear about our legacy of animal rescue, and rehab and meet our animal ambassadors, Pete and Penny Penguin"
Come celebrate us at a restaurant where you can drop $2,500 on drinks and hear about how awesome we are towards animals while we trot out two animals who will likely be scared crapless at all the screaming people and flashing cameras and loud music because we're awesome!
Armed with the invitation, PETA contacted Remi Laba, co-owner of Bagatelle, and told them how disturbing the entire idea was.
In an email to the restaurant, PETA said that, "Loud DJs and flashing cameras may be alluring to your usual clientele, but they are terrifying to these arctic animals unaccustomed to being around humans, much less to being forced to attend a desperate, raucous publicity stunt."
To their credit, Bagatelle then called SeaWorld and told them that the penguins wouldn't be allowed in the establishment. SeaWorld agreed, but PETA decided to protest the event anyway, citing Blackfish, the documentary that exposes the dangers of keeping orcas in captivity, as a reason.
Bagatelle then went ahead and canceled the entire event altogether, saying the decision was based on doing "what was right in our hearts."
For its part, PETA released a statement applauding the restaurant's decision to cancel:
"PETA is hanging up our protest placards and popping the champagne corks today in recognition of Bagatelle's savvy business decision to put kindness ahead of profits,' Mr. Mathews said in a press release. 'Once compassionate people and businesses learn that orcas and other animals suffer at SeaWorld, they want nothing to do with this cruel and disgusting place."
SeaWorld has been fighting back with an all-out PR campaign designed to combat the recent allegations brought on it by the documentary, which has brought a worldwide backlash against the park. Most notably, a handful of headlining performers -- from the Barenaked Ladies to Willie Nelson to Trisha Yearwood -- has canceled shows at the park's annual Bands, Brew & Barbecue music fest.