Monday, 26 October 2020

Live animals will only be allowed at Knowsley Council events in limited circumstances writes Festive Events Campaigner Rehana Jomeen.

In a world where animal use is prevalent and everywhere, it comes as somewhat of a surprise when progress is made towards animal liberation. Live animals will only be allowed at Knowsley Council events in limited circumstances after the involvement of Freedom for Animals and a councillor’s 10-month campaign succeeded.

At a meeting in early September, Knowsley Council unanimously approved a motion from Green Councillor, Jo Burke, prohibiting the use of live animals, unless for educational purposes or if it was consistent with their natural habitat. Considering that the natural environment of reindeer is the tundra, I doubt that it is at all possible to recreate such a space anywhere in the UK. This makes a case for the inappropriateness of having reindeer in this country at all. As for educational purposes, while children may well be more engaged in the presence of live animals and so take more on board, what value does that lesson really have when exploited animals are neither in their natural environment nor are they exhibiting natural behaviour.

Councillor Jo Burke said that the use of reindeer at Christmas events caused them ‘huge stress’, through noise and the experience of being transported for miles from one end of the country to another. She said:

We as a country need to look after these majestic animals. It’s one thing to find them in a story book and quite another to find these sensitive animals used as props for our entertainment.

Councillor Burke added that even when reindeer were supplied by companies with all the relevant permits, as the ones used by the council previously had been, she said that they still experienced stress. I would argue that this is an inevitable outcome when using animals for human entertainment in any circumstances, no matter the ‘suitability’ of the environment. Animals are not mere props for us to use for our amusement. They are living, breathing, feeling individuals with a right to their own lives.

Fortunately, Councillor Burke’s motion received cross-party support from Labour’s Councillor, Shelley Powell, who said:

The welfare of animals has to be a priority for this council.

Both councillors acknowledged the limit to their power in preventing the use of live animals at non-council events, but they could at the very least control what happened at their own events. This sets a strong example to others about the unnecessary use of animals at events. I hope that others take heed and follow suit, especially considering that the RSPCA has also strongly condemned the use of reindeer in Christmas events.

Green leader, Councillor Kai Taylor added:

We can and we should lead the way in ensuring we are not supporting the exploitation of animals.

While I agree with Taylor, I would also like to add that using animals does not need to be exploitative or extreme in order to be wrong, unnecessary and unjust. Using animals at all for human benefit proves how entitled our species believes itself to be. Animals are here with us, not for us. Keep up the good fight!