The Blue Reef Aquarium has announced that it will not be having live reindeers at its popular Christmas event in December following shocking revelations from an animal welfare group over how reindeers were kicked and mistreated at a Kent reindeer farm which hires its animals out for events.
Shocking video footage, taken by Animal Aid, shows a worker kick a reindeer on two different occasions as well as shouting abuse at these gentle creatures.
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Animal Aid are calling on event organisers to halt the use of live captive reindeer in public events.
The group investigated three reindeer centres across the country but said the Kent centre, which supplies attractions in this area, was the worst.
Government figures, obtained via a Freedom of Information request, have revealed that reindeer kept in the UK perish from a range of generalised issues including parasitic, gastric and digestive issues, malnutrition, wasting and nervous conditions.
Says Campaign Manager, Tor Bailey: “Our investigations have revealed the shocking suffering of these gentle animals.”
She added; “Government figures from 2014 to 2017, show that 571 reindeer were imported from Sweden, Finland and Norway. Once brought to the UK with its very different climate, they are susceptible to a variety of diseases and pathogens.
“Reindeer are then used in festive grotto events, reindeer parades, and sadly some are dying prematurely. Animal Aid believes that some cases could be linked to exposure to diseases from British farmed animals. They are often subjected to an extensive travel regime, being transported up and down the country for such events.
“Reindeer are sensitive wild animals, not props to be paraded around and used for human entertainment. I would urge the general public not to support events which feature live captive animals and find other more animal-friendly ways to enjoy the festive period.”
Blue Reef Aquarium posted on its Facebook page last week: “Our Christmas event will not include reindeer as previously stated but the event will be going ahead on Saturday December 22 and will include Diving Santa, face painting, festive food and drink. We will post more details soon.
Blue Reef have been joined by other attractions in the South East in saying no to live reindeer, including Leeds Castle, which usually has reindeers at its annual Christmas Market event.