As we approach the festive season, captive reindeer across the UK will be transported across Scotland, England and Wales to be displayed in Christmas celebrations. 

Free roaming reindeer

These beautiful animals, native to the Artic Tundra, will be put into small enclosures at garden centres, shopping centres and even adventure parks for the entertainment of the public. They may also be made to pull a sleigh down busy high streets and even transported to people’s houses and primary schools for photo opportunities.  

We are working with Animal Aid, Born Free and Freedom for Animals to ensure that this exploitative practice comes to an end. And we need your help.

Take action for exploited reindeer 

Venues do listen and respond to public pressure. This year, Stirling Council confirmed it would not be using reindeer in its Christmas parade and 5 venues that used reindeer in 2022 confirmed they would not being doing so in their Christmas celebrations this year!

Just a few years ago, we were also delighted to hear from Mercat Shopping Centre in Kirkcaldy, Fife, that the new management would no longer be hosting live reindeer displays due to animal welfare concerns. Aberdeen City Council also pulled funding for live reindeer displays at the Aberdeen Trinity shopping centre. 

Download our letter template:

Word doc or PDF

Please write to venues and councils in your local area (see the interactive map above) to urge them to extend their joy and kindness of Christmas to animals and celebrate the festive season without exploiting animals. We have put together a letter/email template for our supporters (available to download above or pasted below), but we would encourage you to use your own words as far as possible - the more personalised the letter, the greater the impact. 

Letter template  


I’m writing to you to urge that you reconsider the use of live reindeer in your Christmas celebrations and cease the use of live reindeer for any future events.  

These types of events are detrimental to the welfare of reindeer as highlighted in a new report, ‘The Welfare Needs of Captive Reindeer Used for Entertainment Events in the UK: a review’. Dr Tayla Hammond, Researcher in Animal Welfare and Behaviour and author of the report, explores the impact of entertainment events on captive reindeer and concludes that reindeer events should be ceased due to the welfare concerns identified in the report.  

There are many concerning reindeer welfare risks associated with these type of events, that can cause distress, fear and mental fatigue in reindeer: the unnatural environment; inability to exercise natural behaviours; constant, unfamiliar and unpredictable interaction; long distance travel, repeated loading and unloading and pulling Santa’s sleigh and the stress of transportation. Both the stress of transportation and the event itself can comprimise the reindeers’ immune system, making them more susceptible to disease and infection.  

For years, numerous veterinarians in the UK have expressed their concerns that reindeer are not suitable for a life in captivity in the UK. Poor body weight, weight loss and muscle atrophy are commonly reported problems in captive reindeer. 

Many councils have taken the decision to not feature live reindeer in their Christmas celebrations this year. I ask that you also please reconsider your decision to display these beautiful animals so that no animals need suffer for festive fun. My family would love to join your celebrations if you do. 

I look forward to hearing back from you. 

Best wishes, 

We have sent a letter to 370 venues 

OneKind co-ordinated an open letter, signed by 10 other animal welfare organisations, that OneKind, Animal Aid, Born Free and Freedom for Animals sent to 370 venues and councils across the UK. The letter called on venues, that planned exhibit or had currently exhibited live reindeer in their Christmas celebrations, to cease the use of live reindeer in events. 

Read the open letter

New report concludes that live reindeer events should cease 

Reindeer at Christmas display resting on grass.

The open letter comes following the release of a new report that highlights the negative welfare impacts of these events on reindeer. 

The Welfare Needs of Captive Reindeer Used for Entertainment Events in the UK: a review’, written by Dr Tayla Hammond and commissioned by OneKind, establishes the welfare needs of captive reindeer in the UK, explores the impact of captivity and entertainment events on reindeer welfare and provides recommendations to improve captive reindeer welfare. 

Read the report summary