Zoo Removes Halloween Ghosts After Racism Complaints
A Halloween display at the St. Louis Zoo recently came under fire after several visitors complained that the ghosts in the tableaux resembled African-American individuals being lynched.
The ghosts, featuring black faces and white robes, were positioned hanging from very tall trees and at night when their faces were lighted, the appearance really was ghostly.
“It was like a complete outrage to me, it was very hurtful,” Chris Burchett, a zoo patron, told KMOV. “The picture appeared to be African-American people hanging from a rope.” Adding, “That’s a no brainer. It’s impossible that you could not see that that’s racist you know, there’s no way.”
However, in the broad light of day, the ghostly figures with black faces brought up painful memories of America’s history of slavery and lynchings, prompting some visitors to call the Halloween display racist.
After receiving numerous complaints that the ghost display in daylight looked like African-Americans hanging from a tree, zoo officials decided to completely dismantle the Halloween display.
Wyndel Hill, St. Louis Zoo Vice President for Internal Affairs, insists that the ghost exhibit was never meant to offend anyone.
“The faces are black so that at night the lights inside the faces would be the only thing that you see,” he told KPLR 11. “I don’t know that it looks derogatory towards anyone, by the same token however, if someone is offended by it, it touches our sensibilities and we’ll remove it.”
Officials said that they had hired an outside vendor to add a Halloween attraction to the park, never anticipating that the resulting display would stir up as much controversy as it did. Many individuals weighed in more negative opinions under a photograph of the display posted on Facebook.