St. Louis Zoo Halloween display said to look like lynchings

(Photo from KPLR 11)

(Photo from KPLR 11)

St. Louis Zoo officials have taken down their Halloween ghost display after receiving complaints that it resembled African-Americans being lynched, KMOV reports.

On Tuesday, a viewer wrote into a local news station with concerns that the exhibit of 10 ghosts with black faces hanging from trees looked similar to lynchings. When the station approached the zoo to get a response, officials decided to remove the display, which was a part of their “Boo at the Zoo” Halloween event.

“It was like a complete outrage to me, it was very hurtful,” said Chris Burchett, a zoo patron, after seeing the photos on the zoo’s Facebook page. “The picture appeared to be African-American people hanging from a rope.”

Zoo officials contracted an outside vendor to make and install the display. The ghosts were meant to look faceless, with a light in their heads, so they would light up at night. But during the day, only the black faces were visible, which officials say gave the wrong impression.

The officials also say not all the comments have been negative, but it’s their intention not 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,” Wyndel Hill, the Vice President of Internal Relations, said.

Burchett says someone should have realized what the display would look like before it was put 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.”

He adds that he does, however, appreciate the zoo listening to people’s complaints.

“I definitely do appreciate them taking it down because it is very offensive to a lot of different people, especially the African-American community.”

New Halloween decorations will be replacing the display soon.

Follow Ugonna on Twitter at @ugonnaokpalaoka