A ghost display at a zoo has been labeled racist and the St Louis zoo has now decided to take the display down following widespread complaints.
Community members rebuked the controversial display, which featured faceless, black-headed ghosts hanging from trees, was part of the St. Louis Zoo's annual Halloween decorations.
A formal complaint was submitted by Chris Burchett after he saw the display being advertised on the zoo's Facebook page.
He told KYUE "it was like a complete outrage to me, it was very hurtful ... The picture appeared to be black people hanging from a rope. It's impossible that you could not see that that's racist you know, there's no way."
The display was not created by the zoo itself but by an outside contractor, and were designed so that at night the ghosts' faces light up and create an eerie feel for zoo customers.
Wyndel Hill, Vice President of Internal Relations at the St. Louis Zoo, said that "we've looked at what we've seen in terms of photographs, we've discussed and we've made the decision that we'll take them down."
The St. Louis Zoo also posted a message on its Facebook page: "Please know that our Halloween decorations were never intended to offend anyone. The faces of our new ghostly beings floating amongst the trees were designed to glow in the dark during our Boo at the Zoo Nights event starting Friday. In daylight, these decorations have a different look, and in order to prevent any misunderstanding or possible offense, we are removing them. We do apologize for any concerns this may have caused."
Disgruntled customers have also had their say on Facebook.
One stated: "The faces should NOT be black. You are missing the whole point!! To many Black people, it sends a subliminal msg...negroes hanging from a tree/lynching! Don't tell someone not to complain if you don't understand why they are complaining! They should've hung up Casper & called it a day! Oops, then some of you people will get mad if Blacks liken Casper to the KKK!!! Give me a break with your bulls#&! excuses for the zoo. They took it down because they knew it was offensive. Don't make me call Al Sharpton!!!"
Another added: "I understand what they were trying to do. But I must easy that when I saw the picture on my news feed, that's the first thought that came to mind. Yes, it is 2012. However racism, the kind that led to lynchings in the not so distant past, still exists. It is easy for people who have not experienced it first hand to not understand."