Friday, December 9th, 2016
Our annual campaign against the use of animals in Christmas events has reached many people who have themselves been concerned about the welfare of animals they have seen at these events. Here a Mother, who took her son to the see the Christmas lights switched on, talks of her experience where she walked away with a feeling of sadness rather than the joy that Christmas should bring.
I arrived at the Xmas lights switch on event, held in a small square outside a church. It was extremely busy and very noisy. This was just after 4pm, and the reindeer had been on display for 4 hours by this point. There was a really loud sound system with a man’s voice booming that could be heard clearly several streets away. I watched the reindeer at this point and I could see that they were very young and small. They looked like they were less than a year old, probably only 6 months. Being a Mother myself, I wondered where theirs was? It all seemed so unnatural. Children were petting the reindeer who were in a small pen, in a very crowded area. Soon after, there was the countdown to the Xmas lights switch on, followed by fireworks.
I went back to look at the reindeer when the fireworks were going off. They were both clearly frightened. I would expect this to be due to a combination of factors, but not just the fireworks. I saw children, who were unsupervised by adults, poking the reindeer who were backing off towards the front of the pen. Other children were trying to pet them at that end so they had nowhere to go. None of the children had adults with them.
The two people (who were from the company that supplied the reindeer) were chatting to each other, looking at their phones and not even looking at the young reindeer, even though loud fireworks were going off. They looked completely disinterested in the welfare of the animals supposedly in their care. I said to them that the reindeer looked scared and I pointed out that children were poking them. I also said that it wasn’t right that they were forced to be near a loud firework display. The pair did not respond but just smirked at each other and shook their heads.
I was appalled that this was considered educational for children. My son was upset that other kids were poking the reindeer. I teach him to be compassionate and to respect animals and people and it was distressing for him to see animals treated like that.
The reindeer were really young and I feel it was obvious to anyone that they were scared. It was totally unecessary for these beautiful animals to be at a noisy, crowded community event and their presence did not contribute to the event at all. I have taken my son to many animal-free festive events over the years which were entertaining and left us both feeling more positive. Christmas is a time for giving and compassion, after all.
*As is always the case with eyewitness reports, CAPS cannot support these events with our own evidence. What we can say with confidence is that we have evidence of other events where the reindeer were subjected to conditions which we believe would have been detrimental to their welfare.
Please support the CAPS campaign ‘Rudolph’s Christmas Wish’ by not attending Christmas events which feature animals. Complain if your local event chooses to use animals and report any events you hear about to firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo credit: The Vegan Punk