San Diego zoo forced to apologise after 'offensive' Australian exhibit stuff-up

A popular Californian zoo has come under fire after an “offensive” mishap during the opening of their Australian exhibit.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park launched its Walkabout Australia experience on Friday morning (local time) – which featured kangaroos, kookaburras and wallabies.

In an attempt to inject some indigenous culture into the exhibit, a group of Maori dancers performed for the audience, leaving many scratching their heads.

A Facebook live stream of the performance, visible all over the world, was inundated with furious comments questioning why the zoo had used a New Zealand dance to open an Australian exhibition.

<span>San Diego Zoo Safari Park</span> came under fire after a Maori dance was performed to open an Australian exhibit. Source: Facebook / San Diego Zoo
San Diego Zoo Safari Park came under fire after a Maori dance was performed to open an Australian exhibit. Source: Facebook / San Diego Zoo

The zoo initially doubled down on their mistake, responding to criticism by saying Maori dancers were native to both Australia and New Zealand before later apologising for their mistake.

“Our sincere apologies. We were given incorrect information,” they wrote on their Facebook page.

Facebook users slammed the event organisers, labelling their lack of research into both cultures as ignorant.

“Your attempt at cultural appropriation is wrong, rude, and offensive,” one woman wrote.

A public apology to the New Zealand culture is very necessary and not some smeared cover up attempt! Shameful

Posted by Sarah Allen on Saturday, May 26, 2018

How ignorant can the people employed at that San Diego zoo be that they open an exhibition clearly showing they don’t…

Posted by Frederique Marie Robert on Saturday, May 26, 2018

“Mixing two very different cultures and perpetuating the ignorance the US has about most things beyond its borders,” another added.

“Did you consult with any actual Aboriginal people before using their cultural word Walkabout? Maybe if you had you would have also learned that Māori aren’t from Australia,” one man said in response to a Zoo Twitter post.

Yahoo7 News has contacted San Diego Zoo for comment.

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