***This Action Has Now Ended***

This Christmas Eve Salisbury Cathedral will host a Family Service and Nativity. It would be a wholesome and entertaining celebration were it not for an unnecessary and cruel gimmick: live animals will be used as props in the performance.

Three live camels and a donkey will be exploited in the nativity show. The camels are called Timujin, Lena and Ivan and live on an estate just outside Salisbury.

They have been known to be brought to many busy events in the past, and while the keepers may claim this proves they are used to human interaction and crowds, this doesn’t prove that they are happy with them. There have been multiple instances, before the ban on using camels in UK and Irish circuses and across the world in other circumstances, of the animals breaking free and running away from their enclosures. One such instance occurred just last week at a nativity in Kansas. Would they really be so desperate to escape if they were comfortable with their environment?

Take action for these animals by sending an email to the Cathedral below!

Camels are classed not only as a wild animal in the UK, but as a dangerous wild animal, and these three camels can be found on Wiltshire’s registry of dangerous wild animals. That doesn’t mean they’re unpleasant or mean animals, it just means that if threatened, scared, or uncomfortable they have the capacity to cause real harm to those around them should they react strongly. With an animal of this size and strength, when you find out that they’re not as comfortable in a performance as you thought, it’s far too late to prevent injury.

The use of donkeys in nativity performances is much more common, but no less harmful. The Donkey Sanctuary, Sidmouth, is one of the UK’s most trusted authorities on Donkey welfare and they state in no uncertain terms on their website that

“The Donkey Sanctuary does not endorse or encourage the use of donkeys or their hybrids (mules and hinnies, herein described as donkeys) in any form of entertainment.”

Animals like donkeys need and deserve the safety and stability of a home environment and are likely to find a full cathedral very challenging and stressful.

Not only is this event harmful for the individual animals being used, it’s harmful for our attitudes towards animals in general. The attendees will see animals paraded as props, dressed in fabrics, and displayed alongside puppets, as though they are nothing more than puppets themselves. In 2021 we should have a much more enlightened attitude towards the complicated, sensitive, thinking, feeling animals with whom we share our planet.

We are simply, and politely asking that this event go ahead without the use of live animals. There is, in fact, no mention of animals at the nativity in the gospel, so their inclusion here is nothing but a needless and exploitative gimmick.

We have contacted the cathedral and they haven’t responded to us. Now we need your help to get their attention. Please use the form below to send an email respectfully asking that the use of live animals be cancelled at this event.

Take action for these animals by sending an email to the Cathedral below!