10th October 2022

October might seem too early to start talking about Christmas. However, here at Freedom for Animals we’ve already been working behind the scenes for weeks to prepare our annual campaign to protect live animals from exploitation in festive events.

Every year we track hundreds of events such as parades, nativities, Santa's grottoes, and Christmas lights switch-ons. Reindeer are the most commonly abused animals in these events, but we also see donkeys, huskies, birds of prey, and even camels exploited for entertainment purposes over the festive season. We monitor whether events are planning to use animals, contact event organisers to discuss the ethical and welfare concerns we have, and urge them to choose compassionate, animal-free celebrations instead.

The wild animals we see exploited throughout the festive season have complex needs which are fundamental to their species, and not one of those needs can be met by the likes of a supermarket foyer, a car park, or even a field in the UK. 

Our campaign’s immediate goal is to stop festive events this year from using live animals such as reindeer. Beyond that, we want to see an end to the captive breeding of animals for festive events, and ultimately, our goal is for no animals to live their lives in captivity purely to be exploited for human purposes.

Over the years of this campaign we have seen a lot of sad displays of reindeer and other animals cooped up in tiny enclosures, exposed to distressing crowds and noises, and being dragged out of vans after long, uncomfortable journeys only to be manhandled by the public. But, we have also seen some fantastic, inspiring examples of animal-free events featuring such delights as virtual reality experiences, animatronics, statue trails, and incredibly talented (and most-importantly, consenting) human performers such as stilt-walkers, puppeteers, face painters, and choirs. With your help we can create future festive seasons where we see more of these cruelty-free events, and less exploitation, until the use of live animals as props in festive events is completely eradicated.

The work starts now, and we need your help. Over the coming weeks we will be launching online actions asking you, our supporters, to contact event organisers and ask them not to exploit live animals in their celebrations. And if you want to start making a difference right now, you can. Last year one of our supporters, Caroline, made an enormous difference for animals exploited in festive events by starting a petition to ask the organisers of Silcock’s Winter Wonderland in Manchester to stop using reindeer. It was a huge success, gaining almost 50,000 signatures and resulting in Silcocks cancelling their use of live reindeer. Caroline hasn’t stopped there, and this year she has started another petition, this time asking that Lapland UK stop their use of both reindeer and huskies in their annual event. You can find and sign her petition here: https://www.change.org/p/lapland-uk-stop-exploiting-reindeer-huskies-for-human-entertainment , and please share it on social media.

We can’t change the world for captive animals at Christmas without you. We need you to:

  • Arrange festive events without using live animals.
  • Report festive events. If you become aware of a planned event that will be using live animals, please let us know about it using our online form. We will contact them to politely make them aware of the ethical and welfare problems surrounding these uses of animals. 
  • Record evidence. If you see live animals being displayed at festive events please send us pictures and/or video evidence.
  • Subscribe to our E-News by scrolling down, and follow us on social media to keep up to date with the campaign. Where events insist on going ahead with the use of animals, we will put out a call to action to our supporters, asking you to boycott events, share posts to raise awareness, contact organisers, or attend demonstrations where appropriate.
  • Locate events near you by using our event map.
  • Organise a peaceful demonstration to protest the use of live animals at an event. Order free leaflets from our shop site.
  • Sign and share Caroline’s petition to stop Lapland UK using live animals.
  • Get involved with cruelty-free events happening across the country. We’ll also be promoting positive animal-free events in the run up to Christmas and if you would like us to feature your event please send the details to [email protected].

- 7th October 2022