As Christmas approaches, reindeer will start to be transported up and down the country to be used as entertainment in parades, ‘Santa’s grottos’ and other festive events.
There will also be a host of reindeer visitor attractions at farms, light switch-on events and shopping centres. These gentle animals will often be held in small pens for long hours, where they are exposed to bright lights, noisy crowds and a constant stream of excitable shoppers. With no place to retreat their health and welfare inevitably suffer.
Of course, the suffering starts well before the Christmas events. Uprooting reindeer from their natural habitat and keeping them in captivity causes them significant problems as their living conditions will be completely different. In the wild, reindeer roam for miles across the tundra, but here in the UK they can be penned up for hours at a time or stuck out on concrete yards, with no opportunity to express this instinctive behaviour.
Throughout 2018, hidden cameras and repeated visits by investigators to facilities which offer reindeer ‘for hire’, found underweight animals with visible ribs, and animals demonstrating signs of disease, such as heavy diarrhoea. Worst of all, the investigators captured footage of a staff member kicking reindeer, shouting abuse and slamming a gate in the face of one animal. Government figures show that from 2014 to 2017, a total of 571 reindeer were imported into the UK, from Sweden, Finland and Norway. During the same period, 54 reindeer carcasses were examined under post mortem and found to have perished from a range of problems including gastric and digestive issues, malnutrition, and wasting and nervous conditions.
Springfield Close, Woodsetts
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