Reindeer parade “outrageous”, say animal lovers

Reindeer parade “outrageous”, say animal lovers

As thousands celebrated the arrival of Santa and his real-life reindeer-drawn sleigh to Loulé last weekend (November 29), animal associations across the Algarve question whether putting the animal “through the stress of a huge parade” was really worth it.
“It is unacceptable and I can hardly believe it,” says animal rights activist Lilo Clauberg Kranendonk from the Canil de São Francisco kennels in Loulé.
When she heard that the local council was bringing in reindeer from The Netherlands – courtesy of a company from northern Portugal – to take part in the event, she questioned “the mental sanity of these people”.
“I am shocked,” said Lilo, adding that she will be taking up the matter with the council.
The municipality did tell us last week that the company was specialised in handling the animals.
However, Cecília Carmo from Lagos-based animal protection society Casa Carlota said she hoped the reindeer were used to human contact, otherwise the parade would have been “very stressful” for them.
“We sometimes take dogs and cats to our Christmas parties, but much less people are around and they are used to humans. They come along solely because we are looking for homes for them,” Carmo added.
A similar parade with reindeer in Wales last week also sparked outrage among animal rights activists. International group PETA opposed the annual Christmas reindeer parade that takes place in Cowbridge, describing it as “cruel and irresponsible”.
The Loulé event was indeed attended by thousands, particularly children, who gathered at the town’s Praça da República to see Santa and his reindeer. They paraded through Loulé’s streets before arriving at the square, where they were greeted by an excited audience and performances by the EnsinAr Te choir and Stompitos percussion group.
The event marked the beginning of the town’s Christmas programme ‘O Natal é no Comércio Tradicional’, devised to encourage people to “shop local” during the season, and so help the borough’s businesses.
Santa and the reindeer are also scheduled to visit Quarteira on Saturday, December 6 (11am at Praça do Mar) and Almancil on Sunday, December 7 (3pm at Jardim das Comunidades).
By MICHAEL BRUXO
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