The announcement that the Night Safari's Halloween event was cancelled has brought a divide among its staff to attention.
Sources close to Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) told The Straits Times that some of its employees were uncomfortable with how their new chief, Isabella Loh, had handled the cancellation, as well as comments which she made last week.
They said that Ms Loh had wanted to cancel the event only next year, but it is unclear why she decided to pull the plug this year.
Some of the staff had even tried to get Ms Loh to change her mind, telling her that it would not make sense to cancel the park's signature event as close to $1 million had been spent. The event was first launched in 2006 by then chief executive Fanny Lai.
In earlier media statements, Ms Loh said that the event was called off after negative feedback from corporations, friends of the zoo, the public and the media, and 'WRS parks will hold more family-centric activities which will include new youth engagement and interactive activities and events.'
She also apologised to 17 students from Singapore Polytechnic who were helping to organise the event as part of a final-year project for their Diploma in Integrated Events and Project Management. She added that she had not been informed that their work was being graded.
In a further development, she later apologised to President Tony Tan Keng Yam for linking his comments to the cancellation of the event. He said at a separate Mid-Autumn Festival celebration held at the zoo on Sep 11 that it was important for Singapore to have family bonding activities.
Ms Loh also said that while there were no religious reasons for cancelling the event, she did make references to 'devil worship' when asked by some employees why the Halloween celebrations did not fit a family theme.
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