Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Guinness is not good for you if you are a penguin

Posted: 31 October 2006


The latest Guinness TV advert, dubbed ‘Best Mates’, depicts the treacherous journey a pair of live emperor penguins have to make in order to get to the pub and order a pint of Guinness. The Diageo ad, produced by Blink Productions for Irish International BBDO, also features computer-generated images (CGI) of the penguins and stock library footage of an Orca killer whale.

Jan Creamer, ADI chief executive, said: “It is totally inappropriate to use these species for filming. Devoid of their natural habitat and their own kind, they can be subjected to harsh training regimes to perform in a commercial environment. The presence of film crews and equipment is highly disruptive and they do not cope well in warmer climates. Animals don’t need to suffer in this way, if brands used CGI instead throughout their ads.”

Denise Murphy from Diageo Customer Relations said: “We did film real live penguins, though much of the ‘penguin action’ in the commercial was created through CGI. Our aim was to film real penguins and see how much of their natural behaviour we could build directly into the commercial but where the story required it we would intervene with CGI.”

The real penguins were filmed at the Mar del Plata Aquarium in Argentina. Denise Murphy added: “Throughout the filming, the penguins were in the care of qualified handlers of the marine park”.

Mar del Plata Aquarium, Argentina

However, according to the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society (WDCS)[1], the aquarium has a record of bad animal welfare.

The park where the penguins were filmed for the commercial, Mar del Plata Aquarium, is a park which uses animals for entertainment purposes. There are daily captive dolphin and sea lion shows. According to the WDCS, the park currently has six bottlenose dolphins and two beluga whales.

In November 1999, four bottlenose dolphins and one beluga whale were transferred to the aquarium from Russia, travelling via Germany. Two of the dolphins died during the transfer. The autopsy showed the female had been pregnant and the male had blood in his lungs. This transfer happened, despite the fact that in 1993 Argentina implemented a ‘stricter domestic measure’ over and above CITES regulations and prohibited further import of bottlenose dolphins from Russia.

The WDCS reported the aquarium has also ignored recommendations to construct a chiller and partial roof for the comfort and welfare of the belugas which are Arctic animals.

Emperor penguins

With a life span of 20 to 40 years [2] emperor penguins live in Antarctic regions, where their habitat is pack ice and the surrounding ocean[3]. In March and April, all mature emperor penguins travel to communal nesting areas on the edge of the pack ice2.

Essentially social animals, they forage for food and rest in groups2. Their diet in the wild consists of small fish and crustaceans4. Known to dive up to 285m deep, they hold the record for the deepest and longest dive of all birds4 although they often forage at around 50m. They have an innate hierarchy system - when the leader moves the others will follow4.

Each year the numbers of emperor penguins decreases but as their location is unknown for two months of the year, it is unknown why this decrease is occurring4.

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[2] http//

[3] Young People’s Trust for the Environment

[4] BBC – Science and Nature website

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