A range of children’s toys being sold at Twycross Zoo has undergone emergency re-branding after a customer noticed what she said was a “racist” sign.
A visitor spotted the sign on Thursday February 17, during a half-term trip to the attraction with her children.
The sign, which referred to “Bongoland”, left the Loughborough mum “shocked and surprised”.
The sign was attached to part of a product range of cuddly magnetic toys made by Nature Planet – a company which, according to the zoo, supports a leading conservation organisation.
“It surprised me to see it was there,” she said “It’s not something I’d expect to see in a zoo, especially when they are places of learning.
The shocked customer told LeicestershireLive: “I was just taken aback by how the sign was there and no-one had picked up on the word.”
Now seen as outdated and racially insensitive, the term has been used in the past to refer to developing countries, particularly those on the African continent.
She reported the matter to Twycross bosses on social media after returning home from her visit, receiving a public apology and an assurance an investigation would be carried out.
“I felt like I had to raise the matter and social media can be a great use in raising issues like this,” she said.
“I wasn’t going on a crusade. I had my kids with me at the time and it was easier to report it later.”
Her Tweet about the sign drew similar shocked reaction from fellow users, but the mum said she believed the sign wasn’t put up intentionally to cause offence.
“I don’t think for one minute Twycross wanted to put up a sign with that word in it. It’s clearly related to a product, but someone should have looked and said ‘hang on, that’s not right’,” she continued.
“It’s clearly an oversight, but the zoo needs to be aware of what it’s saying to people and the social history such a word can have.”
In a statement, Twycross Zoo confirmed that the sign had been quickly taken down following the visitor’s report.
“The supplier is one of many we work with, specifically chosen for their support of Save the Orangutan – an essential conservation organisation who fight for the survival of the mighty, yet critically endangered apes while replanting trees in rainforests,” said a zoo spokesman.
“Twycross Zoo immediately removed the signage when it was brought to our attention by a Twitter user.”
Twycross said reviews will now take place following the incident.
“We are in the process of undertaking a full review of all product lines in our gift shop,” continued the spokesman.
“We have also contacted Nature Planet about the feedback, requesting they undertake their own review and specifically that the product range is re-named.”