Help us make animal exploitation in festive events a thing of the past

Posted on the 18th June 2020

Please reach out to your local authorities and discourage them from hosting live festive animal displays.

With the current covid-19 situation, things are a little up in the air at the moment with regards to events and indeed many other aspects of public life. It is difficult to know if mass community gatherings will be allowed come Christmas time. However, some local authorities will be turning their attention to planning festive events and may be booking animal performances.

We would be hugely grateful if you, our kind supporters, can reach out to your local authorities and discourage them from hosting live festive animal displays.

Could you contact your local Council now and ask them not to book captive animal displays for Christmas 2020? Please feel free to make use of our template letter below.

See our template letter


I am writing to you as a local resident with regard to any plans you may have to use captive animals at festive events this year.

These events attract crowds of often noisy, excitable people, demanding interaction with the animals, such as reindeer, camels or owls, who may have nowhere to retreat to or hide. This can cause great distress to these sensitive animals. They are often transported up and down the country to be exhibited in conditions that are highly unsuitable. Captive reindeer, for example, are unable to roam the vast distances that they would in the Arctic tundra. Some species migrate up to 3,000 miles a year. Life is very different for animals kept in captivity, often by inexperienced handlers, and often with the animals being fed an inappropriate diet.

Please take a moment to watch the ‘Animals in Festive Events’ film, which highlights the animal welfare issues and reputational risks of running events with live reindeer. This is available at

Over the course of 2018, national campaign group Animal Aid extensively investigated what happens when reindeer are ‘off duty’ on farms. The group uncovered:

  • A worker kicking and shouting at reindeer
  • Reindeer with raw-looking exposed skin
  • Animals with heavy diarrhea
  • Animals stuck out on a concrete yard with seemingly no opportunity to graze

In 2018, 37 organisations including Notcutts Garden Centres, Leeds Castle and Sevenoaks Town Council cancelled reindeer appearances at events, with many vowing not to have festive captive animal displays, going forwards. And in 2019, more than 50 events stopped using live reindeer at their events.

With an awareness of the pressure on organisations to provide crowd-drawing, family entertainment, Animal Aid has put together a range of fun alternative ideas to suit a range of budgets and tastes at

In light of the above, please could you confirm that you will not host any festive events using live reindeer or other captive animals?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

If you don’t know the contact details for your council, this goverment website below will tell you based on your postcode.

Search the council website for an events officer, but some councils delegate this to other departments, so you may have to send your email  to the general info address, with FAO Staff member who deals with events. If you are having trouble, please contact us and we will do our best to help.

Find the contact details for your local council

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