Hundreds Sign Petition Against Belgrade Plaza’s ‘Reindeers Rock’ Event in Coventry

Over 700 people have signed a petition against the use of reindeers during Belgrade Plaza’s ‘Reindeers Rock’ event in Coventry on Wednesday the 22nd of November. Activists have called for the event to be cancelled as they believe it is exploiting animals and in the process removing these animals from their comfort and safety for human amusement.

Coventry’s Belgrade Plaza ‘Reindeer Rock’ event on Wednesday the 22nd of November promised “a magical night to remember”, according to their press-release. Further, the event organisers noted the opportunity of “giving every child the chance to meet and greet these furry friends.” However, the event has been thrown into disrepute with hundreds of individuals calling for the event to be cancelled to prevent the exploitation of live animals with added questions being cast over the welfare and safety of the reindeers.

Just last Friday, activist Rob De Silva started a petition titled ‘Belgrade Plaza: Don’t exploit reindeer this Christmas’. Within hours the petition reached its target of one hundred signatures and less than one week on is now on track to hit its new target of one thousand backers with the current total already at 726 supporters.

Talking exclusively to Rob he discussed with us his motives behind the petition, “I just don’t think reindeer should be used anymore. I’m not saying they don’t care for them – they probably do care for them. But, it’s the fact that we don’t really need to be using them. These reindeers if they had the choice obviously wouldn’t want to be there around crowds all day.”

One backer of the petition against the use of reindeers at Belgrade Plaza’s event next week is author of the site vegans.uk – Heather Hamilton. Heather expressed to us her dissatisfaction at events that use reindeers, noting: “Many people don’t realise what a frightening experience being in a city centre or a shopping mall is. This practice normalises animal exploitation for people.” Adding, “Animals should never be exploited for public amusement, whether that’s in a zoo, circus or shopping centre. It is our duty as humans to protect those who are most vulnerable. Animals feel fear, love, pain and joy, just as we do. I feel it’s immoral to cage animals and subject them to a lifetime of misery merely for someone’s fleeting amusement.”

We contacted Belgrade Plaza specifically to get a comment from them on the controversy surrounding their event. Their marketing manager Lydia Moore assured us, “When we initially investigated organising such an event we looked carefully at the numerous suppliers available. We were fortunate to secure the services of our supplier “Real Reindeer” who immediately gave us great comfort around the animals’ welfare and showed great expertise.”

Adding, “The reindeer are very happy, healthy and relaxed which will become evident when they are on show.  All human reindeer interaction is determined by the reindeer who have the freedom and sufficient space to move away from the public if they wish.  Whilst on display the reindeer eat, drink and lie down (and sometimes even sleep) and exhibit all the natural behaviour they would do normally. They are transported in purpose built trailers with thick straw beds as the reindeer travel loose and lie down as soon as they start moving.”

To understand why such controversy has surrounded this event we reached out to animal safety and welfare organisation Animal Aid. Their campaigns manager Tod Bradbury told us, “Regardless of how domesticated they claim these animals are, they are still not immune to stress, they are still not immune to bright lights. When they are penned in or put on a street in a parade they have no way of escaping these bright lights, no way of escaping the noise. They have no hiding places – they can’t escape if they want to. All of their natural behaviors are completely restricted.”

While it appears the organisers of the ‘Reindeers Rock’ event at Belgrade Plaza in Coventry next week have taken the maximum steps to ensure the safety of the reindeers, the controversy is likely to continue regardless. It is perhaps now time to open this debate up further to whether animals should really ever be used in any situation for human amusement.

 

To find out more about the ‘Reindeers Rock’ event at Belgrade Plaza next Wednesday, please click here. To view the petition against the use of reindeers at the event, please click here.

 

Billy Hodder 

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