ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- The St. Louis Zoo says it’s a Halloween display of ghosts hanging from trees, but some call it offensive. A viewer wrote to News 4 saying the exhibit looks more like lynchings.
News 4 went to the St. Louis Zoo on Tuesday to get an explanation and now zoo leaders are making changes.
It wasn’t the first time the zoo had heard concerns over the perception of the zoo’s decorations. But after News 4 contacted the zoo, they agreed to make changes to the display.
“It was like a complete outrage to me, it was very hurtful,” said Chris Burchett, a zoo patron. “The picture appeared to be black people hanging from a rope.”
Burchett saw the photo on the St. Louis Zoo Facebook page. Burchett took his concerns to zoo officials.
The display consists of 10 or so ghostly characters with black faces swaying in the breeze. Burchett says it’s no less offensive in person and someone should have realized it before the display went up.
“That’s a no brainer,” he said. “It’s impossible that you could not see that that’s racist you know, there’s no way.”
Zoo officials say an outside vendor who made and installed the zoo’s Halloween decorations created these to look like faceless ghosts, with a light in the head and at night that’s all that shows up.
But during the day the ghost has a black face and is hanging by a rope and that’s giving some the wrong impression.
Zoo officials say the comments haven’t all been negative, but they certainly don’t want to offend anyone.
“We’ve looked at what we’ve seen in terms of photographs, we’ve discussed and we’ve made the decision that we’ll take them down,” said Wyndel Hill, Vice President of Internal Relations.
Burchett says he’s glad the zoo understood his perspective.
“I definitely do appreciate them taking it down because it is very offensive to a lot of different people especially the African-American community.”
Zoo officials say the creative team that made and installed the black face ghosts included African-American workers, but will be replacing the decorations soon to make sure no one is offended when they come to the zoo.