St. Louis Zoo officials removed a Halloween ghost display after some viewers called it offensive, saying the exhibit resembled slave lynchings.
The Halloween ghost display in question featured about 10 ghosts with black faces hanging from tree branches at the St. Louis Zoo in Missouri, according to Fox 2 Now. A photo of the display was posted on the St. Louis Zoo official Facebook page, prompting several Facebook users to comment that the scene, installed for the zoo's "Boo at the Zoo" Halloween event, resembled slaves being lynched.
“It was like a complete outrage to me, it was very hurtful,” Chris Burchett, a zoo patron, told KMOV. “The picture appeared to be African-American people hanging from a rope.” Adding, “That’s a no brainer. It’s impossible that you could not see that that’s racist you know, there’s no way.”
Officials told The Kansas City Star that an outside vendor is responsible for the zoo's ghost display. The ghosts had lights installed in their heads so they looked like bodiless glowing orbs at night.
Wyndel Hill, St. Louis Zoo Vice President for Internal Affairs, insists that the ghost exhibit was never meant to echo a ghastly lynching scene.
“The faces are black so that at night the lights inside the faces would be the only thing that you see," he told KPLR 11. “I don’t know that it looks derogatory towards anyone, by the same token however, if someone is offended by it, it touches our sensibilities and we’ll remove it.”
Zoo officials said that the crew who installed the ghost display included African-American workers, according to KMOV, and that crew plans to replace the Halloween decorations so no one else is offended.