New Orleans, LA – The Audubon Zoo and Audubon Aquarium of the Americas has canceled a six-day event it had planned with the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) due to concerns the police-involved festivities could be considered “divisive.”
The “Blue at the Zoo” event was supposed to take place from May 11 through May 16 as a joint effort between the zoo and the nonprofit New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation, The Times-Picayune reported.
Visitors who showed up wearing the color blue as a show of solidarity with law enforcement would have received 20 percent discounts at zoo and aquarium gift shops and concession stands.
A zoo spokesperson said the goal of the promotion was to “foster positive interactive experiences” between community members and the NOPD, The Times-Picayune reported.
When critics received word about the planned pro-police event, they immediately complained to the zoo.
The Audubon Zoo promptly caved to “feedback…from members of our community and from persons outside of our community” and cancelled “Blue at the Zoo” altogether on Tuesday, The Times-Picayune reported.
The zoo said in the statement that it will continue working with the NOPD and the Police and Justice Foundation “to promote healing between law enforcement and the community,” but noted it also supports “holding law enforcement accountable for any and all unethical and unlawful behavior,” according to the paper.
“This event…was an excellent opportunity to connect with our community on a personal level,” NOPD Superintendent Shaun Ferguson told The Times-Picayune. “Anyone looking at the issue objectively would see that our department is the model for the implementation of the constitutional policing reforms the public is demanding.”
“Despite the cancelation of this event, we will continue to find ways to work with our community to build a stronger relationship and be the department they deserve,” Ferguson said.