Friday 29 November 2013

Rudolph's Christmas Wish

There’s no denying that Christmas is a magical time, especially if you have children. Ebony was 11 months old last Christmas and, despite knowing it would mostly go over her head, I was beside myself with excitement for the big day. This year Ebony will be almost two, and while that is still too young to understand the story of Christmas, I think she will absolutely love the build up to the day. Already she points out “Missmass Brees” to me as we walk through the village, and she loves the fairy lights scattered about. 

Children are full-time learners, and the festive period is no exception. Ebony will be soaking up everything she sees this Christmas, and trying to make sense of the world around her. For that reason, I believe Christmas is the perfect opportunity to teach some valuable lessons. Of course, it’s easy to teach about giving, greed and consumerism at this time of year, but we can also use Christmas as an opportunity to teach children about our relationship with animals. 

A quick internet search or a browse in the local paper is likely to reveal a number of Christmas events featuring live animals in your local area. While it may be easy to shrug this off from a “well, it is Christmas,” point of view, ignoring the animal exploitation at these events would be a missed learning opportunity for our children. 

Captive reindeers across the country will be trotted out this December to entertain paying crowds desperate to catch a glimpse of the magic of Christmas. But is the sight of two captive reindeers chained up next to a pile of polystyrene snow under the glaring lights of a shopping centre really magical? I don’t think so, and I won’t be taking my daughter to any events using wild animals this winter.

I am against the exploitation of these beautiful animals who belong in the arctic and subarctic regions of the world. I am also against the impact attending one of these events would have on my daughter. At 22 months, she is not yet old enough to question the world around her. She accepts what she sees, and as such I try to show her the world as it should be. I don’t want her to grow up thinking that live animals exist for our entertainment, or that reindeer belong in captivity. 

A report by the Farm Animal Welfare Council in July 2013 stated:

“There have been a number of reports of ill thrift and death in these animals due to poor management and their special dietary and environmental requirements. Reindeer are out with FAWC’s remit because they are not farmed but we strongly suggest their welfare should be considered further by the Government as they are particularly likely to be kept by inexperienced owners for commercial reasons”.

As such, we will not be attending any events showcasing live animals in the run up to Christmas. Not only will we not be attending, but I’ll be supporting the fantastic new campaign from the Captive Animals’ Protection Society by contacting event organisers and venues to explain why. Following a complaint sent last month to a local Christmas event, I received a response from the organisers explaining that they would no longer be using live animals because of public pressure (you can read the full story here on Sarah’s blog). 

If a venue near you is using live animals this Christmas, contact Captive Animals’ Protection Society to let them know. A few venues across the venues have already cancelled their plans to use live animals because of public support. 

What are your thoughts on using live reindeer for Christmas displays? 

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