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‘Stop using animals as Christmas decorations’, say campaigners

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'Stop using animals as Christmas decorations', say campaigners
Campaigners have slammed the ‘cruel practice’ (Picture: Getty)

Campaigners have slammed the use of live animals as ‘decorations’ at Christmas events, saying it is cruel and inhumane.

Animal rights group PETA, the RSPCA and Downton Abbey actor Peter Egan have all called for the organisers of these events to stop using camels and reindeer for fun.

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Vegan Mr Egan, an animal rights advocate, said it showed a ‘poverty of imagination’ as animals were forced to perform ‘in the most terrifying and distressing situations’.

Speaking to the Sunday Times, Mr Egan – who refused to be filmed with meat on his plate or using a gun in the TV show – added: ‘Reindeer and camels deserve compassion and respect.’

It comes as cities across the UK gear up for a whole raft of winter wonderlands, parades and markets in the build up to Christmas.

It's cruel to force reindeer to be Christmas decorations at events
It’s cruel to force reindeer to be Christmas decorations at events (Picture: Getty)

But Steve Swinnerton, who has one of the largest working reindeer herds in England, hit back at the critics and claimed reindeers ‘loved it’.

Mr Swinnterton, who runs his herd at Blithbury Reindeer Lodge, Staffordshire, said: ‘Reindeer have been pulling sleighs for about a thousand years. It’s not cruel. They’re used to humans.’

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The RSPCA told the i100 they agreed with Mr Egan’s comments, adding that reindeers are not easy to look after as they are semi-wild and adapted to the arctic.

Keeping them in captivity causes them a number of health problems and it is a lot harder to look after them than native deer, espcecially given the noise, lights and crowds during a festive event.

Dr John Fletcher, founder of the Veterinary Reindeer Society, added: ‘They are not well able to cope with the stress of captivity, and most of the diseases we see here in reindeer are stress-related.’

PETA wants people to write to their local councils calling for them to end the ‘unacceptable’, ‘unethical’ and ‘abusive trend’, saying it would make a world of difference to the animals.

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