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Toy emporium Hamleys has caused outrage over its plans to feature live penguins in an display aimed at children. Furious animal lovers launched a Facebook campaign page urging would-be customers to boycott the shop and animal welfare experts accused the Regent Street retailer of treating the animals as "living toys" after the world-famous retailer announced the event on its website.

"Take a trip to Hamleys after school on Monday to visit our real life Penguin Pool! “ the shop’s website trumpeted."You will be able to see the penguins swim, interact with their friends and be fed at tea time!" The website also promised children that they would get to meet a real life “mummy and baby reindeer."

Despite the outrage from animal lovers the RSPCA told Sky News that it is not against the law to have the penguins in the shop.

"If the animals are cared for as they should be and their needs are met, it's not illegal," a spokeswoman said. "But clearly extra care has to be taken in making sure animals are kept in a suitable environment and aren't caused unnecessary stress."

A spokesman for Hamleys said the arctic creatures would be well cared for and the store would use “the services of a highly respected and professional organisation that has been working with animals for 40 years in such situations.”

The penguin event is scheduled for December 6 but Hamley’s have withdrawn the advert from its website in response to the furore.


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