Misery for camels and donkeys at Salisbury Cathedral this Christmas Eve

Posted on the 19th December 2021

It is not only reindeer who are used for ‘entertainment’ in festive events. Sadly, Salisbury cathedral is planning to use live camels and donkeys in their ‘Family Service’ on Christmas Eve.

The animals will be required to take part in a nativity scene, inside the cathedral, for the entertainment of children and adults. Unfamiliar surroundings can be stressful for both camels and donkeys.

Please send Salisbury Cathedral a polite email, asking them to avoid using live animals at their event: litmus@salcath.co.uk 

Below is an example email to send to the event organiser. If you can, please personalise it, as personal letters will have more impact. 

Dear Event Organiser,

I was shocked to see that Salisbury Cathedral is planning to exhibit live camels and donkeys as part of the ‘Family Service’ on Christmas Eve.

Festive events can attract large crowds of noisy, excitable people, demanding interaction with animals. All-too-often, the animals are given nowhere to retreat to. This can cause great distress to sensitive animals such as camels and donkeys. Transportation to the event can also be stressful.

This will be a family service, with many young people in attendance. Most children tend to be drawn to animals, and we should set a positive example by not using animals for human entertainment. Instead, we can teach young people to show kindness and compassion to all animals.

Experts on camel behaviour have stated these sensitive animals can become stressed in unfamiliar surroundings and during transportation. Even well-trained keepers can find it hard to tell when camels are stressed, ill or injured. I also have concerns for public safety as, when stressed, camels can become aggressive and could potentially inflict fatal injuries due to their size and strength. Furthermore, humans can contract brucellosis, ringworm, and tuberculosis from interacting with camels.

Donkeys are known to mask signs of distress, unlike horses and ponies, so their suffering can easily go unnoticed. They have a reduced flight response and so it can be extremely hard to read their body language and know when they are frightened. For example, a lack of movement away from a fearful situation is often misread as confidence rather than fear.

There are many fun and educational alternatives to the use of live animals in public displays, so please extend the season of peace and goodwill to all, including animals, by making the compassionate decision to cancel the use of live animals at your event.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards

(Your name here)

Alternatively, you could

  • Message them on Facebook
  • or send them a Tweet, using their Twitter handler: @SalisburyCath 

Please note: Animal Aid do not condone the use of threatening behaviour or language. Please be polite and respectful at all times when carrying out this or any other action on behalf of Animal Aid. Thank you.


Donkeys are known to mask signs of distress, so their suffering can easily go unnoticed.

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