Vegan Investigation Reveals 'Shocking Suffering Of Captive UK Reindeer'

Campaigners are calling on event organizers to stop using live captive reindeer in public events
a reindeer with patchy fur
Animals were spotted with patchy fur (Photo: Animal Aid)

An investigation by a vegan leading animal protection agency has revealed what it calls the 'shocking suffering' of captive reindeer in three centers in the UK.

According to Animal Aid, it filmed a worker kicking a reindeer on two different occasions as well as shouting abuse, at Kent Reindeer Centre. Several reindeer at Cheshire Reindeer Lodge had visible ribs - and their outdoor access appeared to consist of 'just a barren yard'.

Reindeer have an innate desire to roam - but on captive reindeer farms, they are only afforded a small fraction of the space they need.

Premature deaths

Reindeer - which are often imported from Sweden, Finland, and Norway - are used in festive grotto events, and reindeer parades - and sadly some are dying prematurely.

Animal Aid believes that some cases could be linked to exposure to diseases from British farmed animals. They are often subjected to an extensive travel regime, being transported up and down the country for such events.

Government figures revealed via a Freedom of Information request have revealed that reindeer kept in the UK perish from a range of generalized issues including parasitic, gastric and digestive issues, malnutrition, wasting and nervous conditions.

'Happy and healthy'

Stephen Swinnerton, owner of Blithbury Reindeer Lodge told Metro UK that all animals on his facility are 'happy and healthy'.

"The video was footage was taken without our knowledge and if the person concerned had addressed their issues to us at the time, in person, we would have been in a position to alleviate their concerns there and then," he added.

"The reindeer in question was a retired animal named Forest who I had raised from a calf and who had reached the ripe old age of 17 (very elderly by reindeer standards who barely live beyond 10 years on the tundra). Due to the complaints we had no choice but to have him euthanized, which caused me and my staff much distress."

Animal Aid's investigation

Animal suffering

"Our investigations have revealed the shocking suffering of these gentle animals," Animal Aid Campaign Manager, Tor Bailey, said in a statement sent to Plant Based News.

"Reindeer are sensitive wild animals, not props to be paraded around and used for human entertainment.

"I would urge the general public not to support events which feature live captive animals and find other more animal-friendly ways to enjoy the festive period."

Plant Based News has contacted Kent Reindeer Centre and Cheshire Reindeer Lodge for comment.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are prepared in the author's capacity and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Plant Based News itself. 

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PBN Contributor:

Maria is the Editor of Plant Based News. A former magazine editor, newspaper reporter, and features writer, her work has been published by The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and various regional newspapers, as well as Vegan Life magazine and Vegan Trade Journal. She has interviewed a huge range of people, from Prime Ministers to authors, activists, pop stars and actors, and enjoys the varied range of topics writing for PBN allows her to tackle. You can follow her on Twitter @MariaChiorando and Instagram @mariachiorando.

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