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Photo © Cairngorm Reindeer Herd

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is trying to keep Rudolph and the rest of Santa's crew from making any public appearances in the UK. Nobody is complaining about the elves, although when you think about it some of those guys are pretty small and they could be stepped on, but no it's just Santa's reindeer that appear to be the target.

Last year in Dillon, Colorado, a reindeer got loose while it was being used in a holiday display and PETA got in on that event as well, asking the mayor to not let any reindeer be used for holiday displays. But the owner just got a tighter grip on the leash and on went the festivities.

Tilly Smith, who is in charge of the herd in the UK, which has been touring every Christmas since 1990, said: “Last year we received some hassle from an organisation called Captive Animal Protection Society and this year it’s been PETA."

PETA has contacted many of the venues hosting the reindeer, urging them to cancel the events and claiming the safety of the animals and the public is at risk.

A message from staff at the Cairngorm Reindeer Herd, in the Scottish Highlands, home to the UK’s only free-roaming reindeer, says:

“We know our reindeer are very happy and comfortable in their work -- otherwise we wouldn't take them to the parades -- as we are the ones who work with them day in, day out and know them all extremely well.”

Not tied up

Tilly said the reindeer are put in specially made boxes when they're being transported them and are not tied up. They usually stay on farms when they aren't at home and are away for 10-14 days.

Tilly explained that without the money they make doing this at this time of year they wouldn't be able to care for the reindeer or pay their staff.

“We feel worn out by it all, to be honest. The reindeer bring a huge amount of joy, but there’s a blackness in the background just now because of it,” Tilly said.

But PETA spokesman Ben Williamson said: “We should not be supporting such unethical displays. Children should not grow up thinking animals exist merely for our entertainment."

The Cairngorm Reindeer Herd was established in 1952 by Swedish reindeer herder Mikel Utsi.

We'll see how this flies with Santa.


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