Two reindeer are missing in Suffolk after running away from a Santa’s Grotto at the Elveden Estate. The estate told the BBC that the animals "got spooked and jumped the fence".

While we hope that the reindeer come to no harm, we know that this will be a terrifying ordeal for them. They are separated from their herd, in a strange environment, without access to the specific diet they require. While our thoughts are with the reindeer we must ask the important question: why did this happen?

The reindeer escaped the event on Sunday for a simple reason - they did not want to be there. The company that hired these animals out, Majestic Reindeer, are not open about their location in their online presence. However, some investigation indicates that they are based around Boston, Lincolnshire. This means that the reindeer will have endured a journey of around 60 miles before even arriving on site at the Elveden Estate. After their arrival their keepers attempted to keep them confined to a small enclosure to be exposed to crowds and noise. This is not a natural environment for a reindeer. It is no wonder they became scared and fled.

Research published this year by our colleagues at OneKind demonstrates overwhelmingly that reindeer are distressed and physically and emotionally harmed by being used for events. We have formed a coalition of 11 animal protection charities to write out to events organisers to make them aware of this research. On the 4th of October we sent this research to the Elveden Estate from where these reindeer are now missing. We received only their automatic acknowledgement. Their wilful ignorance of evidence that was provided two months ago has not only resulted in animal suffering, but created a real risk to public safety on nearby roads.

This incident can be added to the enormous amount of evidence that reindeer do not want to be used in events. Every reindeer hire company claims that their animals are perfectly happy to be there, but it is undeniable now that that is not the case. The industry is lying in order to exploit reindeer as props and selfie opportunities, and ultimately profit from their suffering.

It’s time now to end the animal exploitation industry for good:

  • Boycott reindeer events
  • Report them to us
  • Write to organisers to complain using our interactive map
  • Donate to support our work