By the time we open our eyes on Christmas morning this year we will have lived, in one way or another, with Coronavirus for around two years. We know how it feels to be shut in, how desperately claustrophobic it can be, no matter the space or comfort we have at home.

We also know how it feels to be thrust into busier spaces than we’re used to – that first trip to the supermarket after restrictions are lifted, where there are more people around us than we’re now used to. So, imagine how those situations feel to semi-wild animals like reindeer, for whom crowded spaces and small enclosures are fundamentally not in their nature.

That’s what Freedom for Animals’ Festive Events campaign is all about.

Reindeer are incredible animals whose bodies are remarkably well adapted to live in their natural environment: the arctic tundra of Greenland, Scandinavia, Russia, and some parts of North America. They are herd animals and should never be found in groups of fewer than ten, but are more suited to being with dozens, or even hundreds of companions.

They are a migratory animal, some breeds of which can migrate 3,000 miles per year. And they are particularly developed to be able to spend 40% of their lives in the snow, with hollow fur to help trap heat, and adaptable hooves which can grow and shrink according to the changes in the firmness of the ground.

The conditions they are evolved to exist in are fundamental to their species, and not one of those conditions can be met by a supermarket foyer, a car park, or even a field in the UK.

Each year we campaign to raise awareness about captive reindeer in the UK, being used for shows, sleigh rides, parades, and other demeaning and traumatising purposes. At Freedom for Animals we have an annual mission to encourage businesses, private and public organisations, and even individuals not to book reindeer for display and entertainment purposes. It is unnatural, unnecessary, and exploitative, and we want to see an end to reindeer captivity. We will see an end to reindeer captivity, with your help.

Though the use of reindeer is one of our key concerns this time of year, our Festive Events Campaign is here to protect all species from exploitation. That’s why we take a stand against events using donkeys, camels, horses, birds of prey, and any number of other animals  that are used in the likes of nativities, parades, and Santa’s Grottoes.

This campaign is not about ruining Christmas for you or your family. It’s about creating more responsible, cruelty-free, kinder Christmases. The magic of Christmas isn’t in seeing a poor, broken animal chained up in a car park, or marched down the street deafened by the sounds of children squealing and pawed at by crowds.

The magic of Christmas is in the child that swears blind that they can hear sleigh bells and hooves on the roof on Christmas Eve. And who stares wide-eyed at the empty plate that last night held a mince pie for Father Christmas and carrots for his reindeer.

Neither your children, nor the animals used need these depressing displays. They will always take far more from the animals than they can ever give to your Christmas.

So, what can you do?

  • First of all, if you’re in the position to be arranging Christmas events, please do so without using live animals.
  • Should 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. 
  • Stay tuned into our social media channels to keep involved 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.
  • 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.

Thank you for taking the time to find out about our campaign, and please share this post to widen our reach and help us make a bigger difference for animals this festive season.

Report a festive event using live animals