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Reindeer - why we believe they belong in the wild


We happen to know that you, our followers, love Reindeer, and so do we.

Indeed we know that you love all animals, just as we do.

Did you know that Reindeer live wild in large herds of up to half a million individuals, and they may cover up to 3000 miles every year as they roam.

These are called Tundra Reindeer and they live north of the forests in the arctic circle.

There are others, called Forest Reindeer, who live in smaller family groups, in the Northern forests, near the tundra.

Reindeer, like many other animals, are exploited (used without their permission) by humans, for labour, meat, skin, trinkets, tools, or entertainment. Reindeer are ‘farmed’ in captive herds in arctic countries.

Reindeer are also kept captive here in the UK and other countries as ‘props’ for Christmas and other celebrations, where humans gawp at them, pulling sleighs or confined in small pens. The Reindeer do not enjoy this, even though they may appears to be compliant, because they have been ‘trained’ to be, and they can become very stressed and sad.

That is why, at Dalton Moor Farm, we only have pretend Reindeer here for our Christmas Trails, and not real living ones. We believe that real Reindeer and all other animals should be allowed to roam free in their natural environment.

We hope you will continue to love and respect all animals through your whole life, just as we do.

Here is some more information on the stress experienced by captive reindeer (ab)used by humans for entertainment -

What many people may not realise, is that events such as these will attract a crowd of often noisy, excitable people, which can cause great distress to these sensitive animals. Often there is quite literally nowhere for them to retreat to as they are surrounded by people demanding near-constant interaction. This in turn severely impacts their health and welfare.

They are often subjected to an extensive travel regime, being transported up and down the country to be used as entertainment in pens, or paraded. Behind the scenes, they are unable to roam the vast distances that they would choose to if in the Arctic tundra, their natural habitat.

Dr. Aidan Foster, an expert veterinary authority on reindeer, has stated that “Reindeer are highly specialised Arctic deer. The recent fashion of keeping them in a captive situation many degrees south of their normal range is fraught with health and welfare issues.”

Over the course of 2018 national campaigning group Animal Aid extensively researched and investigated what happens when reindeer are ‘off duty’ on farms. The below is a brief synopsis of its findings:

  • Reindeer suffering from extensive fur loss with raw-looking exposed skin

  • Animals with heavy diarrhoea

  • Some reindeer crowded into night pens or sheds

  • Animals stuck out on a concrete yard with no opportunity to graze

  • Poor bodily condition, some with obvious skeletal issues

  • Deliberate abuse including workers kicking and shouting at reindeer

Government figures requested by Animal Aid show that from 2014 to 2017, a total of 571 reindeer were imported into the UK, from places such as Sweden, Finland and Norway. For the same period, 54 reindeer carcasses were submitted to the Animal Plant Health Agency for post-mortem diagnostic investigation. Their findings reveal that animals seem to have died from a range of generalized issues including parasitic, gastric and digestive issues, malnutrition, wasting and nervous conditions.

Simon Cowell, CEO of The Wildlife Aid Foundation, says: “Animals should no longer be used as objects of entertainment. It is cruel and demeaning. Now it is time to stop the barbaric practice of using animals in Christmas events.  Local authorities and management companies have a responsibility to educate and to be at the forefront of animal welfare best practice

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