Darlington penguin display axed after protests
An event featuring a live penguin display has been cancelled after protests from animal rights activists.
The show, dubbed a "Christmas-themed educational display", was due to be held on 19 December in Darlington.
But, more than 800 people signed an online petition and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) also objected.
Organisers Distinct Darlington, said they were concerned about "aggressive protesters".
PETA welcomed the cancellation, saying a busy town centre "filled with noisy shoppers, bright lights and excited children, is an entirely unsuitable environment for penguins or any other animals".
Elisa Allen, associate director of PETA, said: "Such events are cruel and disrespectful, and subjecting penguins to the stress of travel, confinement and handling on a busy shopping day would have been out of touch with the public's concern for animal welfare."
In a statement, Distinct Darlington said it was disappointed to cancel the event but said other free family events, such as Santa's grottos, would take place.
The organisation said: "In recent days we have become very concerned about the increasingly aggressive nature of groups of animal rights protesters who are under the mistaken impression that the penguins' welfare is in some way at risk.
"Whilst we would like to reiterate that this is absolutely not the case, our main priority is to ensure the comfort, enjoyment, and ultimately, the safety of the general public.
"As such, it is with sadness that we have been compelled to take this course of action."