Bedford Christmas light switch-on: Organisers defend plans to feature live reindeer at event

Santa with his real reindeer

Santa with his real reindeer

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Organisers of the towns’ annual Christmas light switch-on have hit back at claims which slams the event for featuring live reindeer.

Animal rights organisation PETA has called on BedfordBID to cancel plans to feature reindeer in tonight’s festivities.

Campaigner Sonul Badiani-Hamment, said: “A busy attraction such as Bedford town centre’s event is an unsuitable environment for reindeer.”

However a spokesperson for BedfordBID said the reindeer used in the event are ‘happy’ and well looked after by professional keepers from Cairngorm Reindeer Company.

She added: “The reindeer have been coming to Bedford for a number of years and are a firm favourite with families.

“They live in Cambridge full-time and are part of the Cairngorm Reindeer Company, which is has a very good reputation.

“The BID make sure the welfare of animals is put first, the event is governed by the RSPCA regulations and regulated by the conservation programme.

“The reindeer are actually quite happy, it’s not an event where welfare is an issue, they’re at least half a mile away from any disruption.

“The Christmas fireworks don’t start until 7pm and the animals have gone by that time.”

But in a letter from PETA, a spokesman said: “These beautiful animals belong in the Arctic and subarctic regions of the world.

“When used as holiday ‘props’ they’re denied the opportunity to engage in natural behaviour or roam freely over vast open ranges as they would in their native circumpolar habitat.”

> Tonight’s Christmas light switch-on will begin at 7pm along The Embankment.

Everyone is invited to attend the free event which will feature a firework display courtesy of Bedford Borough Council.

Other entertainment organised by BedfordBID includes an appearance from dance troupe ‘Boogie Storm’ who recently appeared on Britain’s Got Talent.

You can see the Cairngorm reindeer which will be at the event from 2pm.