Christmas Come Early? Drop in Demand for Live-Reindeer Displays

Posted by on October 22, 2020 | Permalink

Good news for reindeer! A recent report shows a drop in requests for reindeer displays this year. The owner of one of England’s largest herds has even experienced a 95% dip in bookings.

As we face further COVID-19 restrictions – and as areas enter Tier 2 and 3 lockdowns – plans for public gatherings over the Christmas season are on standby and may be cancelled altogether. While that’s difficult news for humans, there’s a silver lining for reindeer.

The festive season is usually hell for these animals, who are carted around the country and treated like nothing more than living Christmas ornaments. Because events are not likely to go ahead as “normal” in the coming months, though, reindeer may get the gift of a happy, peaceful Christmas.

What’s Wrong With Reindeer Displays?

Being carted around from one display to another, kept in small groups in cramped sheds and pens, forced to pull sleighs, and exposed to bright lights and loud noises in busy shopping centres and at fairs is extremely stressful and unnatural for sensitive reindeer.

According to research from the Veterinary Laboratories Agency, a poor diet, exposure to diseases carried by other animals, and the stress of being removed from their natural environment have contributed to an increase in deaths among young reindeer in the UK.

When they’re denied the opportunity to roam across long distances, their hooves can grow too long, a serious condition that can be debilitating. They can also contract parasites carried by domestic animals.

One of the key lessons that the COVID-19 outbreak has taught us is to leave wild animals in peace (here’s why). That should include reindeer, who aren’t selfie props. Leaving them where they belong – in the Arctic and subarctic regions, where they live in large herds and roam free over vast open ranges – instead of carting them to Christmas fairs is kinder to them and safer for humans.

How You Can Help

If you learn of any event in your local area that will feature live animals, please write to the organisers and ask them to rethink their plans. Here’s a template letter you can use if you’re not certain what to say.

Helping to end the exploitation and misery of reindeer and other animals is a great gift you can give them this festive season.