Worry over animal welfare at reindeer parade

Concerns have been raised over the welfare of the animals at Lincoln’s annual reindeer parade this week. 

The event will take place on November 23 and will start with a display on the High Street 2pm-4pm, followed with a parade at 6pm starting at St Marks Shopping Centre and then finishing at the City Square.  

The reindeer parade started at St Mark’s shopping centre. Photo Credit: Bethany Lee

The criticism comes from animal rights groups Animal Aid and

Lincoln Animal Rights, who urged Lincoln BIG to cancel the parade, they also staged a protest at the event. 

Peter Radcliffe, leader of Lincoln Animal Rights, said: “We think that this is totally unacceptable. These animals get startled when they’re put in the back of a lorry and go on a tour for a whole month, in places where it is too warm for them and too noisy with hundreds of screaming children gathering around them.” 

“It is guaranteed that they’ll be under immense stress because for them it is just completely unnatural.” 

Protests come after it was revealed that eight places in the UK have recently cancelled their parades, this includes events in Leeds, Surrey, Essex and Kent. 

The Cairngorm Reindeer Centre, who care for the reindeers coming to Lincoln, have assured that they care for their animals fairly and deny any form of cruelty to their reindeers. They said: ‘We put the welfare of our animals as top priority and hold the discretion to stop any event we are taking part in at any part.’ 

‘If a reindeer becomes unwell or appears stressed, we can and will immediately remove them from the situation.’       

Santa rides past with the reindeers. Photo credit: Bethany Lee

The reindeers are the only-free ranging herd of reindeer in Britain and originate from Cairngorms in Scotland. Organisers say that the funds made from the parades are spent on caring for the animal’s all-year round and insist that their reindeers are fairly treated.  

Footage was released earlier this month by Animal Aid, showing reindeers in distress and kept in unacceptable conditions. The footage came from devices placed in unidentified facilities and shows the reindeers being abused. None of the footage leaked has been linked to the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre.  

In an official statement, the RSPCA Scientific Manager in Wildlife, Dr Ros Clubb says: ‘As Christmas approaches, we and the other animal welfare charities are really concerned that reindeers used in festive events across the country could be suffering in silence.  

‘We understand that it must seem magical for people to see a reindeer at Christmas, but the reality is that reindeers are not easy to keep well and need specialised care. They get stressed very easily and are very susceptible to many health and welfare problems.’ 

According to RSPCA figures posted in 2016, there is estimated to be 1500 reindeers in the UK and 119 were imported from other countries, with most being from Sweden or Finland.