Tech conferences have always had a circus-like atmosphere: hordes of people roam around taking pictures as special attractions are showcased and crowd-pleasing demonstrations draw big applause.
This year’s SIGGRAPH conference in Los Angeles may have tread a bit too close to the circus ideal though. Thousands of attendees who came to the show to check out the latest in computer grarphics and interactive techniques were soon buzzing about an unexpected guest with the paradoxical name of “Tiny.”
SIGGRAPH GIRAFFE pic.twitter.com/4yDhLcKlT7
— Ian Hamilton (@hmltn) August 1, 2017
“Tiny” was brought in to the conference hall for two appearances as a part of an animal drawing studio workshop. SIGGRAPH 2017 attendees were able to learn from a college professor who specailizes in animal drawing.
The three-year-old giraffe’s appearance was a surprise for many people at the conference.
— Randi Rost (@RandiAtIntel) August 1, 2017
— Eric Rachlin (@eerac) August 2, 2017
— Sandy Ressler (@sressler) August 2, 2017
Some people, however, were less-than-thrilled to see the giraffe in the indoor pen.
— Kate Chapman (@surreykate) August 1, 2017
@siggraph Not happy about the Giraffe at SIGGRAPH. I don't like seeing wild animals in captivity, and sad about SIGGRAPH enabling it.
— Renee Tymn (@ReneeTymn) August 1, 2017
A SIGGRAPH representative told Business Insider that Tiny was grought to the conference by Hollywood Animals, “a well-known and well-respected organization” in California.
However, on Wednesday morning a Change.org petition popped up, stating “oorganisers clearly did not considered the distress that this type of indoor activity may inflict on a wild animal and the prolonged and unnatural conditions it had to endure solely for the purpose of accommodating such gratuitous and pretentious entertaining.”
The petition currently has 123 signatures, and will be delivered to SIGGRAPH president Jeff Jortner.
In a comment to Business Insider, PETA’s senior captive wildlife specialist Debbie Metzler said that giraffes in the wild normally enjoy ranges of up to 100 square miles.
“Giraffes in captivity will never get to live as they should in the wild,” she said. “Especially not at any sort of tech conference.”
Business Insider reached out to SIGGRAPH for comment on the Change.org petition, but did not receive a response.