Paul O’Grady to Lord Mayor: Please Don’t Herd Sheep Across London Bridge

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Paul O'Grady to Lord Mayor: Please Don't Herd Sheep Across London Bridge

The Lord Mayor of London is historically entitled to the Freedom of the City, a privilege that theoretically affords him or her the right to do many things, including carrying a naked sword in public and other equally archaic practices. One of these practices is the dangerous tradition of herding sheep across London Bridge.

Since the current Lord Mayor of London, Fiona Woolf, plans to do just that in a fundraising stunt set for next week, Paul O’Grady MBE has written to ask her to put a stop to the tradition. “I am sure that you will agree that these ‘rights’ should not be exercised simply because they can be exercised”, he writes.

“Herding sheep down a very busy London street while cars continue to speed along the road next to them shows a disregard for their welfare and needlessly causes them distress. I have no doubt that you would be able to match, if not exceed, the donations that the previous Lord Mayor received by promoting an event without the use of any animals, and compassionate Londoners would thank you for it”, Paul explains in his letter.

As Paul knows from his experience in sharing his home with sheep, they are intelligent and complex individuals. They flock to keep safe from predators, and if threatened, they all run together for a short distance and then turn to face the danger as a group. Just like humans, dogs, chickens and most other animals, sheep make different sounds to communicate different emotions, and flock mates recognise each other even if they’ve been separated for years. A University of Illinois study found that sheep perform nearly as well as pigs on IQ tests and have demonstrated problem-solving abilities.

We hope the Lord Mayor will agree with Paul that sheep are not inanimate props and drop the stunt in favour of a more compassionate form of fundraising that would not cause distress to animals.

Image: “I love Ewe! # 1” by foxypar4 / CC by 2.0


  • N Cirenza commented on October 4, 2014 at 10:47 am

    Utterly unbelievable such a thing would be considered. Disgusting

  • Jan Allsop commented on October 5, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    We were crossing London Bridge , by chance, today, when the sheep were being herded across. Traffic was roaring past and the animals were visibly distressed. They had to put up with a long photoshoot with lorries, buses and motorbikes thundering by. Not the place for farmyard animals I feel.

    • Dan commented on October 7, 2014 at 9:15 am

      Thanks for letting us know Jan! Any chance you took any pics of your own of the distressed sheep?

  • karin nelson commented on October 13, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    So sad to see another example of the use and abuse of animals especially by so called “civilized” people who should know better. This reflects so badly on London.

  • Kim commented on October 14, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    Several hundred years ago we had bear and bull baiting in London – now it’s tormenting sheep. We haven’t really moved forward much have we? There will always be people who derive entertainment from causing suffering to terrified, innocent and defenceless creatures. Are we to assume the Lord Mayor of London is one of them?

  • Jenny Bates commented on October 15, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    YIKES! I thought they had done away with these archaic rights!

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