CAPS’ warning over reindeer welfare in run-up to Christmas

CAPS has today launched a campaign to curb the trend in using live animals in Christmas events during 2013 by appealing to consumers and companies to “make Rudolph’s wish come true”. The charity says there are serious welfare and ethical concerns over the use of animals in this way and that action must be taken now while companies are still in the planning stages for this year’s festivities.

panelpicThe campaign, entitled “Rudolph’s Christmas Wish” calls upon businesses to ensure that their festive celebrations do not include live animals, such as reindeer and penguins which, a CAPS spokesperson says, can become stressed when subjected to the hustle and bustle of shopping centres and Christmas markets. As December approaches, consumers will also be asked to make a pledge to avoid those events that persist in featuring animal displays.

Opposition to the use of live animals during Christmas promotions has grown in recent years. A campaign in 2010[1] saw world-famous toy store, Hamleys, drop plans to host a display of live penguins. In recent weeks, Manchester Central, which recently hosted the Conservative Party Conference, also cancelled plans to feature real reindeer in their 2013 fair after CAPS supporters raised concerns.

Director, Liz Tyson, said:

“Whilst we are still three months away from Christmas, shops are beginning to stock their Christmas wares and we are already seeing adverts for live reindeer displays cropping up as organisers begin to promote their festive events, which are planned well in advance. We are keen to ensure that we nip these things in the bud so now is the time to act”.

Reindeer are animals that would naturally live in huge herds in the arctic and sub arctic. It is recognised that their welfare can be severely compromised when kept in captivity. A formal report compiled for Government by the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) in July 2013[2] stated:

“There have been a number of reports of ill thrift and death in these animals due to poor management and their special dietary and environmental requirements… [We] strongly suggest their welfare should be considered further by the Government as they are particularly likely to be kept by inexperienced owners for commercial reasons”.

Ms Tyson added:

“Further to welfare concerns, using live animals in these sorts of events sends the very damaging message to young people that animals are little more than living props. Christmas is magical enough for children and ending the use of reindeer and other animals in this way will do nothing to diminish that. For the animals though, it could make the world of difference”.

CAPS says that the initial focus of the campaign is on educating companies on relevant concerns in the hope that they will choose to avoid live animal displays altogether during their planning stages. In addition, consumers will be encouraged to contact CAPS when they see new events advertised in their local area. As Christmas approaches a pledge can be signed by members of the public to show their support for the campaign.
Find out more and take action by visiting the dedicated campaign page here:




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