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Not Christmas props: charities tell events to stop using live reindeer

This news post is 8 months old

They want NHS trusts, care home groups, garden centres and pub chains to stop using the animals

Eleven animal welfare charities have signed an open letter to 225 organisations, asking them to cease the use of live reindeer in their Christmas celebrations.  

They want NHS trusts, care home groups, garden centres and pub chains to stop using the animals, citing serious welfare concerns.

The open letter was also sent to local authorities across the UK to ask that they review their policy on the use of reindeer in events. 

This comes following the release of a new report that highlights the negative welfare impacts of these events on reindeer. 

In the new report, Dr Tayla Hammond, an expert in animal welfare and behaviour, explores the welfare needs of captive reindeer used for entertainment events in the UK, and ultimately recommends that the use of reindeer in entertainment events is ceased. It states that the unnatural environment and lack of agency (the ability to make free choices or have control over aspects of their lives) associated with these events are likely to lead to psychological distress and a state of poor welfare in reindeer. 

Animal welfare charities, OneKind, Animal Aid, Born Free and Freedom for Animals are leading the campaign to end live reindeer displays across the UK. 

OneKind campaigner, Eve Massie Bishop, said: “This report confirms what we have been saying for years; reindeer used in Christmas events across the UK are likely to be suffering from psychological distress and in a state of poor welfare. We simply cannot justify the suffering of these animals for our entertainment. 

“We would urge people not to visit any events that exploit these animals for entertainment and instead celebrate the festivities at animal-friendly events. As the report highlights, reindeer are sentient beings with complex needs. They are not Christmas props. 

“Christmas is a time of joy, kindness and generosity. We must extend this sentiment to non-human animals too.” 

Read the open letter here:



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6 months ago

I run an events business in London and we are holding a Christmas Bazaar where there will be a Santas Grotto and a post box for letters. The idea was to charge for the postage and use that money as donation for a 'Reindeer' Charity. So have been looking for an 'appropriate' Reindeer Charity to donate to or support. I do not think it is appropriate to take reindeers out to events into the Commercial Christmas Market, so think a charity donation would be more appropriate.

But here's the rub most charities that are publicising against using reindeers are quite vociferous on Veganism and that gives me a problem because I'd rather be transparent on this... our other hospitality business serves meat and in winter months - venison!

We are very proactive on the vegan offerings with more than 50% of our dishes being vegan or vegetarian.

My own view dare I say it (as a semi-libertarian) is food choices should be down to personal choice (within reason). Those promoting Veganism would I believe see better uptakes by being less aggressive and divisive in demanding of people turning vegan.

I have been vegetarian for almost 40 years and I probably am around 75% vegan, if you could measure it in any way. Ive watched this unfold quite dramatically in my life time.

So the conundrum for me is finding a 'Reindeer Charity' that is not going to call me out for being a hypocrite due to us serving venison.

The alternative is we look at the good causes to make donations to.

Any ideas where we could go with this would be greatly appreciated.

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