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Meatpacking District Venue Calls Off Planned SeaWorld Party With Penguins

(credit: Julie Larsen Maher)

(credit: Julie Larsen Maher)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Meatpacking District restaurant called off a planned party to be hosted by SeaWorld Tuesday, after an animal rights group threatened to protest over the live penguins that were set to be part of it.

The decision to cancel the event at Bagatelle, at 1 Little W. 12th St., reportedly followed complaints by the group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

The event at the trendy restaurant was set to involve two live penguins, which PETA said amounted to animal cruelty. The group had threatened to protest the event.

In an e-mail to the restaurant, PETA said the arctic birds would have been scared by the atmosphere of the restaurant.

“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 being forced to attend a desperate, raucous publicity stunt,” the organization said in the e-mail. “We understand restaurants like to have a line around the block, but unless you cancel Tuesday night’s cruel affair the line outside will be protestors.”

The organization also slammed SeaWorld as an “abusement park,” noting the recent documentary “Blackfish” that focused on an orca held at SeaWorld and the purported dangers of keeping such animals in captivity.

“The very idea that SeaWorld was planning to drag these poor penguins to a noisy cocktail party goes to show that they absolutely do not have the best interest of their animals at heart at all,” PETA campaign specialist Ashley Byrne told 1010 WINS.

E-mails from the owners of Bagatelle that were supplied by PETA indicated that the restaurant first demanded that no live animals could be part of the performance. PETA issued another e-mail saying the protest would proceed because the group believes any promotion of SeaWorld is unacceptable, and finally, the restaurant said it was canceling the event altogether.

In a DNAInfo report, restaurant co-owner Remi Laba said the reservation for the SeaWorld party had come through a third-party agency, and Bagatelle did not know of the content of the party until three days ahead of time.

Meanwhile, the publication reported, SeaWorld released a statement accusing PETA of trying to “disrupt” the planned event “through harassment and misinformation.”

The theme park said canceling the event was “the right thing to do” out of concern for those who attend, and added that the penguins are well-cared for and the public appearances “do not cause stress as suggested,” the publication reported.

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