Animal rights activists have urged a Huddersfield garden centre to cancel a live reindeer event which it has condemned as ‘cruel’.
Wyevale Garden Centre at Birchencliffe is set to feature the reindeer in a parade on Saturday (Nov 18).
However, Animal Aid, one of the UK’s largest animal rights organisations, has urged Wyevale Garden Centres to cancel its plans.
Animal Aid said it has written to the event organisers, highlighting the animal welfare issues involved in using reindeer in this way.
It said research by the Veterinary Laboratories Agency showed that “these specialised arctic deer” suffered when uprooted from their natural habitat and placed in captivity. It added: “The research shows that a poor diet, exposure to diseases and stress are prevalent and lead to a high mortality rate in captive reindeer.
“Not only this, the stress of being carted around the country, placed into busy and noisy environments with bright lights is a huge welfare concern. This applies to reindeer whether imported from the wild or bred in captivity.”
Wyevale Garden Centres said health and safety checks were made to ensure he reindeer were comfortable and came to no harm.
Animal Aid campaign manager Tod Bradbury said: ‘Reindeer should be living free in the tundra, not placed in a busy street.
“Not only is it cruel to transport these often shy, reserved animals around the country and force them into stressful environments, it also gives the wrong impression to the public – in particular, young children. It teaches them that animals are mere props and decorations, rather than sentient beings deserving of respect.
‘We are absolutely sure that Wyevale Garden Centre’s motives were related to bringing festive joy to local residents. However, this can be achieved without putting the well-being of animals at risk.”
A spokesperson for Wyevale Garden Centres said: “The reindeer parade is actually a part of our Christmas Charity Grotto of which all moneys raised by WGC go to local charities.
“The parade is an activity that locals within the areas of which they’re running look forward to every year, making this a fun-filled safe activity for all to enjoy and health and safety checks are thoroughly made before, during and after the parade to ensure that the reindeers involved in the parade are comfortable and in no harm in anyway.”
The reindeer parade through Lindley will set off from the Children’s Book Shop on Lindley at 2pm.