People for Ethical Treatment of Animals has asked Craig Dinsmore, director of Hogle Zoo, to reconsider the zoo's plans to sponsor an Oscar Mayer Wienermobile Talent Search.
The zoo plans to sponsor the event, in which youths visiting the zoo Aug. 1 and 2 are given an opportunity to sing "I Wish I Were an Oscar Mayer Wiener." Those participating could be selected to compete in a national competition involving the song.Bruce G. Friedrich of PETA said in a letter sent by fax to Dinsmore (a copy was also sent to the Deseret News) that in past years PETA members have protested the company's attempts to use kids to promote its hot dogs.
"Last summer we held 68 demonstrations in more than 50 cities. Plans are already under way for such demonstrations this summer," said Friedrich, PETA's vegetarian campaign coordinator.
Friedrich said a visit to the zoo from a 30-foot-long hot dog on wheels is Oscar Mayer's "Joe Camel, enticing children to eat products that will haunt them later in life. Eating meat is bad for kids' health, catastrophic for the environment and a tragedy for the animals involved."
Hogle Zoo marketing director Andrew Wallace said PETA is entitled to "their opinion" about Oscar Mayer and the promotion. But he termed the talent search a "wholesome fun family entertainment, which is what the zoo is about, providing activities for kids and families."
Wallace said the zoo does not receive money from Oscar Mayer for sponsoring the event, which will be held for the first time this year at the zoo. But he said the promotion helps increase the number of paid visitors to the zoo.
Friedrich said PETA will stage demonstrations in Salt Lake City and and 71 other cities where the wienermobile is scheduled to stop.