Hong Kong’s Landmark shopping mall has come under criticism from animal rights groups for its annual Christmas installation.
The display features circus animals that include bicycling elephants and hippos dressed in bathing outfits posing on podiums. It was designed based on drawings by French illustrator Eric Giriat about a little girl who helps Santa Paws master his circus skills and together they travel the world in a magical hot air balloon.
Giriat sketched nine different scenes which have been transformed into the huge installation at Landmark Atrium on Queens Road Central. Over 100 colourful figurines burst into life every 30 minutes with music and lighting.
But Animals Asia, a charity that campaigns to end abusive animal practices, has questioned the Landmark’s choice of installation. “We’re shocked,” said the charity’s founder and CEO, Jill Robinson. “When did cruelty become a part of Christmas? Thankfully no live animals are being harmed… but they are setting an awful example. The display has the potential to normalise cruelty, particularly among the children it is aimed at.”
A statement from The Landmark said that while they appreciated the concerns regarding animal welfare, it would “never condone animal cruelty or live animal performances.”
“We note that there are some negative reactions to The Landmark’s Christmas installations and we regret for any misunderstanding caused,” continued a spokesperson for Hongkong Land. “This year’s display represents a surreal, fantasy story of animal characters and a little girl.”
She emphasised that the Landmark will also be donating to the Make A Wish Foundation via tickets bought for the installation’s Santa Paws Christmas Wish Machine.
But animal rights supporters remain unconvinced. “Of all the Christmas messages – why on earth did they choose this?” said Robinson.
The installation runs until January 1 at 15 Queen’s Road Central, Central.