Isle of Wight Pride apologises for advertising “disgusting” tug-of-war event with a lion

A Pride event has apologised after advertising a “disgusting” tug-of-war challenge with a lion.

Isle of Wight Pride posted on Facebook advertising a ‘Battle of the Prides’ tug-of-war between Casper the lion and a rugby team. The event had been organised by the Isle of Wight Zoo.

The pride promotion gave attendees a 10% discount off zoo entry when a Pride wristband was shown, including to the tug-of-war between Casper and the Wessex Wyverns rugby team.

(Image: Facebook)

However some were less than impressed with the stunt. Facebook user Sandra Louise O’Toole said: “Is Isle of Wight Pride using a lion as public entertainment in ‘tug of war?’ I sincerely hope not as this would be total abuse of an animal and entirely unacceptable!”

Alex Wakefield said: “The brilliant Isle of Wight zoo decided it’s a good idea to have a tug of war with their lion – Casper. All for the Isle of Wight pride, have a great time because in reality it’s disgusting.”

Responding to criticism on social media, the Isle of Wight Pride organisers said: “We are in a busy week and were asked to share various posts about events people have organised this week.

We haven’t been involved in organising this and we realised the mistake quickly and removed the post and haven’t promoted it any further. We are sorry and we apologise.”

It added that it wholeheartedly apologised for what it called ‘a foolish oversight’.

Contacted by PinkNews, the group said: “We have made an apology and we had already removed the post. The event has also been cancelled.”

Casper is one of the zoo’s three lions (Image: Isle of Wight Zoo)

The tug-of-war was cancelled on Wednesday after concerns were made to the Isle of Wight Zoo.

The RFC Wessex Wyverns rugby team who had been slated to take part in the tug-of-war said: “The planned enrichment activity (the play tug of war) we were invited to take part with Casper the lion was cancelled on Wednesday by Isle of Wight Zoo after concerns had been raised to the zoo about the activity.

“Rest assured that the Wyverns would never have considered this if we thought there was any issue for Casper.”

According to the Isle of Wight Zoo’s website, activities such as tug-of-war can be beneficial for the zoo animals, providing them with mental and physical stimulation.

It says using tugs-of-war can form part of “planned enrichment activities” which “fulfil a diverse range of highly motivated behaviours” and “establish behaviour patterns which closely represent its wild lifestyle.”

The Pride parade takes place on Saturday. It will be the second time that the event has been run on the Island.