Outrage over festive use of reindeer in Lancaster

A reindeer at a festive event.
A reindeer at a festive event.

A former Mayor of Lancaster has slammed organisers for using reindeer at a festive event.

Joyce Taylor has spoken against the use of reindeer at the Christmas show in Market Square on Saturday.

“Animals are not props, they should be treated with respect,” said Joyce, a former Morecambe councillor.

“Reindeers don’t belong in Market Square, they are a wild animal, they should be in their own environment.

“The poor little things get penned off, in a confined space with people trying to pet them, it is wrong they shouldn’t be subject to that kind of stress.

“I battled in 1985 to stop people bringing circus and performing animals on our land.”

The event, organised by Lancaster Business Improvement District (BID), welcomed the Cairngorm Reindeer herd – the only free range herd in the UK which roam freely in the Scottish Cairngorm mountains.

The BID said the reindeer did not put on a performance and are cared for by their own fully trained handlers at all times who take great pride in ensuring the animals do not experience any undue stress.

A spokesman from Lancaster BID said: “We take great pride in the careful planning of all our events and the welfare of the animals us of high importance to us when we arrange for reindeer to visit the city.

“The reindeer are cared for by their own fully trained handlers at all times who take great pride in ensuring the animals do not experience any undue stress during their time on the road. Individual animals are never on the road for more than two weeks before returning home to roam free in the mountains.

“When in the city centre the reindeer were kept in a large pen with no direct contact with any member of the public or participation in any performances. They spent most of their time grazing happily on the lichen provided by the handlers and sleeping on the straw in the centre of the pen.”

The most recent resolution made by the council was in 2007 and states:

“That Lancaster City Council shall ensure that all land and property in its ownership or control and subject to leases or any other agreement to permit use of that land or property for any purpose whatsoever shall be compliant with its 1985 decision to ban circuses that use performing animals on city council land or property.

“A clause to this effect shall be inserted in every new lease or renewal of a lease involving city council land or property; performing animals to be defined as “non-domesticated animals.”

A city council spokesperson said: “The council takes the welfare of all animals very seriously and their wellbeing is always of the utmost importance. The motion passed by council was specifically intended to relate to performing non-domesticated animals and not to prevent animals of any sort being on its land.

“There are many examples of council land being used for purposes in which animals are involved, such as dog shows and some events have had petting zoos involving farm animals. The reindeer concerned are domesticated, as opposed to wild, and do not fall under the terms of this policy.”