Reindeer the Unlikely Farm Animal:

Domestication in Recent Times and the Issue of Animal Rights





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This page is part of a section concerning Reindeer.

Important please note:
The following section of articles concerning reindeer is for interest only. I do not condone the domestication of reindeer under any circumstances, particularly the slaughter of reindeer for meat. References to reindeer husbandry, the traditional reindeer herding and their use as meat, clothing transport and similar issues are of course included here as part of the information concerning reindeer. I and many others of a similar persuasion would like to see the exploitation of reindeer for meat, skins, entertainment and as other resources and uses consigned to history forever with a future where reindeer and other domesticated animals are left to live out the course of their lives unmolested. In short this website supports the abolition of the exploitation of all animals in all circumstances. Please see: Animal Rights

In Order that this page may be ready separately there is a small amount of repetition  from Reindeer:Domestication a Short History However it is recommended that you read the above webpage before continuing if you have not already done so.

Click the links below to access pages on the following topics

Page One Reindeer: General Information Page Two  Reindeer:Migration  
Page Three Reindeer: Myth, religion and Tradition Page Four Reindeer in Art  
Page Five Reindeer:Domestication a Short History    
Page Six Reindeer: Emblems on Coins and Stamps Page Seven Reindeer:Random facts  
For ease of reading all quotations appear in a purple font.    

Reindeer the Unlikely Farm Animal: Reindeer Domestication in Recent Times and the issue of Animal Rights.

This page continues with the subject of the domestication of reindeer and in additon covers animal rights issues concerning reindeer herding both commercial and traditional  and various aspects of the increasing exploitation of reindeer as tourist attractions and as entertainment, some of which may well surprise you. Most of the opinions expressed relating to animal rights will be the opinions upon which this website is based. In short Think differently about supports animal rights in its strictest meaning which is the abolition of all animal exploitation. To read our position on :Animal Rights

Reindeer as live Stock

When we think of farming and animal rights the last animal to come to mind is reindeer. We do not think of reindeer as a domestic animal in the same way as sheep, pigs, poultry and cattle. Yet in many parts of the world that is precisely what they are.  In Canada and Alaska you can buy reindeer sausages, and in Scandinavia you can buy reindeer meat balls.

According to the Alberta Reindeer Association: *1)

Reindeer farming is a growing industry in North America. The Alberta Reindeer Association is committed to educating the public about these fascinating creatures as well as providing unfaltering support for those involved with their care.

Consider reindeer for ski resorts, lodges and hotels, cultural events, tree farms and Christmas tree lots, corporate Christmas parties, summer fairs ... to name a few. Our members have halter and sled trained reindeer for you to experience and enjoy.


You can even learn on-line how to start your own reindeer farm:   and even visit reindeer farms as tourist attractions.

As incredulous as it may seem reindeer are even farmed in Japan! Horonobe Reindeer Farm

Most usually associated in many western countries with Christmas we think little about these animals considering them to be wild, little touched by human influence. Few  people have knowledge of the indigenous reindeer herding people such as the Sami who have subsisted on reindeer for thousands of years, first by hunting and than by herding. Often referred to as the reindeer people these nomads have followed the reindeer on their long migrations protecting them from predators and killing only a sufficient number for their needs. Even more relevant though to animal rights is the present day situation about which there is much ignorance and that is the extensive herding, or in reality farming, of reindeer. This involves serious and significant increase in  problems for the timid gentle reindeer as men on foot and skis, the original methods used to herd reindeer, have been replaced by helicopters and snow mobiles causing stress for these sensitive animals. Free roaming has been replaced by corralling and fencing to control reindeer, which is likewise a detriment to their wellbeing. Subsistence has now been replaced by what can only be called large scale farming to provide meat and other products, including such things as aphrodisiacs to Asia, for an ever growing market of an increasing population.  In the modern world only about ten percent of reindeer herding is done in the traditional way.

All across northern Eurasia to the Bering Strait, there are Native peoples who base their economies upon the herding of reindeer. As already described in the webpage linked above The Sami and other indigenous people farm them, round them up periodically to confirm ownership and take an annual slaughter for meat and skins. In additon to the traditional use of reindeer derivatives of clothing, ropes, bedding  and the winter covering of tents called yarangas and other personal commodities, modern uses include commercial sales of meat and hides.

For the Sami people in Sweden reindeer herding is an exclusive right. Unfortunately much has changed in modern times:

“Reindeer husbandry is an exclusive right for the Sami population in Sweden, but the entry of commercial players has dramatically altered the way these gentle animals are treated today, and not for the better.”
Roger Petterson, Country Director for WSPA Sweden.

Indeed much has changed for reindeer in our modern world and the traditional raising of these animals for the purposes of sustainability with the least degree of distress to them has been replaced by more commercial processes with a significant increase in the amount of reindeer meat marketed.

Today there are large herds of reindeer, for example between 2 and 3 million reindeer make up herds in Russia. A total of approximately  800,000 reindeer make up herds in Norway, Sweden and Finland. A smaller number of reindeer about 49,000 animals make up herds in North America where in 1891 reindeer herding was introduced by Sheldon Jackson who brought 16 animals from Siberia. The idea was to try and prevent the periodic starvation of the Aleut and Eskimos along the northern coast and also to provide them with a resource by which means they could enter into the money driven western economy. Scandinavian families relocated to Alaska to provide instruction in reindeer herding which peaked in the 1930s with populations of over 600,000 animals but declined to only 50,000 in the 1950s as a consequence of lack of interest in herding, predation and wild caribou herds. Many herders lost reindeer to wild herds of caribou as their animals followed  their wild counterparts on their long annual migrations. Today reindeer herding in this region is even less prevalent, however reindeer and reindeer herding continue throughout Alaska,  approximately  two-thirds of the estimated 18,000 reindeer in the state are found on the Seward Peninsula were the industry is owned by local Alaskan Native corporations or by Native Village governments In accordance with the 1937 Reindeer Act.

To improve the management, herds are monitored. For the most part Reindeer graze on public land which makes up the majority of the land on the Seward Peninsula for which reindeer herders are granted grazing rights. Most of these areas are fenceless and often without roads for essay access, contact with the herd is impossible at certain times of year. This has resulted in the loss of the semi domesticated herd as they mingle with the caribou as mentioned earlier. In order to gain some control over the situation of reindeer  who roam freely for most of the year, twice annually reindeer herders have corralling or handlings,  at such times reindeer are moved to the corral on foot, or by an ATV (all-terrain vehicle) or herded by helicopter, a frightening experience for these timid gentle creatures.*2)   

It has to be said of course that although the former intensive traditional reindeer herding, as opposed to the more prevalent present day extensive herding, was of considerably less detriment to reindeer it is not without cruel aspects of course.

Finding information concerning the farming of reindeer is so difficult on the internet or elsewhere that you could easily be led to believe that at the present time the exploitation of these animals is minimal and nothing much has changed since time immemorial and the romanticised following of the herds by nomads, information about which is more abundant, can almost seem idyllic. As already mentioned most people are unaware of the nomadic indigenous people of Finland, Norway, Sweden and Russia and the role that reindeer play in their lives. Despite the slaughter of some of the herd for meat and skins at subsistence levels, reindeer herding may to some people appear acceptable in the cause of preserving  tradition and culture. Such comments as "the hunt for these animals is a part of the traditional lifestyle" and "The Samis have practised reindeer herding from time immemorial" imply that this is acceptable because it is traditional as though this provides some irrefutable justification. Consequently amongst the rhetoric of culture, tradition and heritage the suffering of reindeer may be overlooked.  Some Sami traditions require that reindeer are killed by inserting a knife directly into the heart while the animal is still conscious contrary to the law in Norway which requires that the animal should be unconscious before death to prevent unnecessary suffering .During  a court case in Norway the herder argued through his lawyer that this method of slaughter was an age old customary tradition. *3)

Behind the facade of tradition if you dig a little deeper in many cases you will find  today a considerable industry is based upon the exploitation of reindeer far beyond that of mere subsistence. The reality is that even amongst the dwindling traditional reindeer herders that remain reindeer are not always treated like pets, companions or connections to a higher spiritual state as legend would have it, but as farm animals who like all farm animals will eventually be slaughtered for their meat, skins and other products. In many ways this makes reindeer no different from any other farm animal with the exception that reindeer are not confined to a factory farm. Contemporary reindeer farming has become a multinational industry that profits from the breeding and killing of these animals much like any other more familiar farm animal.

It is considered that reindeer herding is important in cultural terms rather than purely economic, The Livonian Area of northern Sweden has been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site due to its significance in the Sami people's continuing dependence on this traditional lifestyle. Yet one has to wonder whether economics in the modern world have taken precedence in importance when the production of reindeer meat worldwide totals around 25,000-30,000 metric tonnes. It may come as rather a surprise to find reindeer available in tins as meatballs,  an ingredient in stews and so on. Sautéed reindeer is a traditional meal in Lapland. Reindeer sausages are sold in supermarkets in both Alaska and Finland. All of the reindeer's internal organs are eaten and as already mentioned  antlers are powdered and sold as an aphrodisiac and as a nutritional or medicinal supplement to Asian markets for which there is much demand. The hides continue to provide an extensive variety of clothing both traditional and modern.

The notion that nomads treat their animals as though they share a kind of bond sustaining one another in the struggle for survival is, in some instances, an erroneous assumption created by wishful thinking. Although the importance of the reindeer has changed little for the Sami and other similar nomadic people over thousands of years most certainly in more recent times the role played by reindeer has undergone considerable transformation as the Sami people and their way of life has changed as a result of the pressures of modern societies, they like many indigenous people have been forced to adapt and change.

At the beginning of the twentieth century reindeer exploitation became more widespread and intensive as the production of meat became of more importance. The Sami reindeer herders introduced modern innovations during the 1960s including the use of snow mobiles and helicopters in their work with reindeer and herders now no longer walk or ski with their animals, herding now requires larger areas and reindeer become frightened and forced to flea from natural pastures.

The Sami and others like them have gone from hunting only wild reindeer as a means of subsistence towards a more controlled herding by using the above mentioned innovations making a substantial profit each autumn rather than merely surviving. By doing so much has changed for reindeer to their detriment. This of course is a generalisation and there are still nomads who may continue with traditional herding practices. However, as already mentioned, this does not imply that reindeer were consistently treated humanely. The chuckchi people, more about whom you will read later, treated their reindeer harshly in the course of breaking them in by tying their legs, often for several days at a time until they were broken in and ready to pull a sledge.

Mention should be made of the reindeer/caribou in North America and Greenland, although they are neither domesticated or herded in the same way as their counterparts in Scandinavian countries they are hunted by the Inuit and the Kalaallit, the indigenous peoples of Alaska and Greenland respectively. Their are a significant number of reindeer farms throughout Alaska which also serve as tourist attractions. In fact if reindeer farming in Alaska is entered in any internet search engine numorous links provide examples of a surprising large number of farms and tourist attractions.  Likewise in Canada and the USA. Reindeer farming is far more prevalent than many people realise. The greatest threat of reindeer exploitation it seems comes from modern society.

Reindeer keeper in Swedish Lapland

This video shows the reality of life for reindeer exploited by contemporary Sami when the time comes for them to be killed for their meat and skins


The caption included with the Video reads:

Meet the Lapps separate their reindeers before the butchering. A powerful spectacle when 4-5000 reindeers and hundreds of reindeer breeders are collected in order to part's label calves and to choose out the reindeers that will go to butchering.

I would describe this rather as a sad spectacle than a "powerful" one with its implication of something momentous, inspiring.

There is no justification for such brutality towards another creature. Nothing can justify treating an animal in this way by dragging him along by his antlers and towards the end lifting him up by his hind leg. Despite all the Romanticising about connections with their animals by indigenous people this is plain and simple cruelty.

Tradition and culture, what little remains of it concerning reindeer herding cannot be used to justify cruelty, cruelty is cruelty and is not migrated by any circumstance of time or place. While indigenous people wish to keep their traditions, and for the most part this should be respected, traditions involving cruelty have to be consigned to history if we as human beings ever hope to be truly ethical, if we ever hope to belong to a caring world where no creature suffers for the sake of profit or tradition or vagaries of appetite. Traditions are quickly abandoned for other reasons, note none of the people in the video are in traditional clothing. Tradition can no longer be used as an excuse for barbarous cruelty. Somewhere along the way tradition has been abandoned otherwise we would all still be living in caves.  Like all pursuits in life, including modern lifestyles, tradition and culture is worthy and desirable for those so inclined just as long at it causes no harm to anyone else, including other animals with whom we share this planet, who just like you or I simply wish to live and enjoy their time in the sun that nature allows. I have a respect for the culture of indigenous people and feel a certain sadness for the way in which many such people have been forced into accepting modern lifestyles, in some cases by the use of extreme and abusive methods.  Nonetheless it is time now for the universal abolition of all exploitation of animals in all circumstances. For the first time in history it is probably possible to avoid all exploitation of animals including reindeer.  Perhaps in ancient times there was a need to exploit reindeer as no other food was accessible in this hostile climate when during the winter months food and other commodities were not available and reindeer were essential for transport, shelter and clothing. Times have changed and other sources of food are available and it is time for the cessation of the exploitation of reindeer both traditionally or commercially.

In Norway reindeer farming in modern times is an industry which is increasingly becoming more important. Modern Domestication and farming practices have been and continue to be of considerable detriment to reindeer.

In Asia different varieties of reindeer have been breed to accommodate local conditions and human requirements including Transportation. The Chukchis are an indigenous people who live on the Chukchi Peninsula and the shores of the Chukchi Sea and the Bering Sea region of the Arctic Ocean within the Russian Federation. They have a breed of reindeer who are the products of a longer period of domestication than most. The Chukchis may have begun even earlier to keep larger herds, sometimes numbering thousands, for commercial meat and other products right from the 17th century as a result of the arrival of the Russians. At one time the reindeer of the Chukchis were semi wild and
human urine was used to catch them, a method successful due to what appears to be a craving on behalf of reindeer.  It was under the Soviet system that Chukotkan herders were organised into brigades each brigade was responsible for between 500 and 2000 reindeer. The larger numbers of reindeer were kept on the Chukotsk Peninsula and their annual migrations to the west were discontinued. On the Peninsula the winters are harsh and their are no forests; in 1984 nearly half of the reindeer died.

In more recent times In Sweden and Finland, reindeer have been subjected to immense suffering during large-scale round-ups and slaughter. Watch the video below from WSPA which shows massive herds of reindeer being round up by commercial slaughter houses and slaughtered for their meat in Sweden and Finland. Such is far removed from the notion of ingenious reindeer herding nomads who raise and tend small herds and causing minimal harm to these animals. In the last couple of decades this has changed drastically as the reindeer industry expanded and became more commercial. This is full scale exploitation of these timid gentle animals for their meat and other resources. During every stage of what is increasingly a commercial process reindeer,  as you can see by looking at the video are subjected to enormous suffering, fear and callous cruelty, all of which was contrary to Sweden's animal welfare laws.

A new investigative video from WSPA shows massive herds of reindeer being corralled, transported and slaughtered for their meat in Sweden.

The footage details the immense suffering and extreme fear inflicted upon the reindeer at every stage of the increasingly-commercial process as the reindeer are frightened, mishandled and physically harmed -- all of which is contrary to existing animal welfare laws in both countries. This cruelty cannot be allowed to continue.

Sign this petition calling members of the Nordic Council of Ministers to uphold the Växjö Declaration and enforce existing animal welfare laws.

This is the link: (Note You may have already viewed the video included in this petition in the earlier link:


“The film that we are showing is particularly shocking now that Christmas is upon us, but it clearly shows the cruel reality that reindeer are exposed to,”
Roger Pettersson, secretary general of WSPA Sweden

The video clearly shows the mistreatment of reindeer as these gentle placid creatures are roughly handled as they are dragged, pushed and shoved into trucks packed so tightly together that their antlers harm other reindeer close by .It should be noted that reindeer and horned animals take deliberate care in the wild to avoid accidental damage to fellow members of the herd with antlers or horns.  In additon their antlers get caught in the side of the truck causing considerable pain. Antlers are not dead bone but are filled with nerves and blood vessels and at times extremely sensitive to touch. At the slaughter house the animals are killed one by one with knives.

“Once on these densely-packed loading trucks, reindeers’ iconic antlers become potentially lethal as they get entangled, trapping their heads against the side of the truck or accidentally goring each other,”
Rodger Petterson.

Before being killed at the slaughter house many reindeer face starvation and illness as a result of neglect and improper care.

The good news is that thanks to a huge response to campaigns including petitions by WSPA  WSPA  and the internet environment group Care2  Swedish Minister for Rural Affairs confirmed that the slaughter methods used on reindeer go against Swedish welfare laws and he will take the all necessary actions to better the lives of reindeer throughout the region by establishing animal welfare programs in Sweden for reindeer and reinstating animal protection laws along with an assurance that these cruel methods of handling and slaughtering should be stopped immediately.

While this is a substantial improvement, that is if these regulations are not violated, the ideal is for a cessation of any type of exploitation of reindeer to allow them to live their lives in their natural environment without negative interference by man, by either nomads or commercial concerns. In other words zero interference.

Below you can read about reindeer and the many and various ways in which they are exploited world wide.

Reindeer Meat Sold in the UK at Christmas

Can you imagine telling your children about Santa Claus and his eight reindeer who pull the sleigh that brings them their Christmas presents and than serve reindeer for dinner?

Its hard to understand such a mind set is it not, such a bizarre incongruity. You can't imagine this can you. Well Lidl can!

In the UK Lidl a German supermarket sold reindeer steaks during the run up to Christmas 2011.

Reindeer in Nordic regions are caused significant stress when these gentle timid wild animals are rounded up with snowmobiles and even helicopters. Most of these animals are young and have never seen their first snow fall

"Christmas is supposed to remind us of peace and goodwill - and the rest of the animal kingdom could do with a taste of it, rather than being tasted," said a spokesperson for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. "The idea of 'Rudolph' being slaughtered and sliced into steaks for a novelty Christmas dinner is revolting.”

"Animal rights campaigners have criticised Lidl for selling reindeer that are, according to Uppsala University in Sweden, often herded using non-traditional techniques such as snowmobiles and motorbikes which causes the animals distress and muscle wastage."

Read the rest of this article


Backlash after budget supermarket Lidl launches reindeer meat for Christmas

"'Reports show that up to 70 per cent of reindeer killed for meat are calves.'

Mr Kerswell said that Siberian reindeer were often herded by snowmobile, motorbikes and even helicopters, which causes the animals high levels of stress.

'This and lassooing them cause huge distress. They can become so distraught their muscle can waste away,' he said.

According to research in the Polar Research journal, the numbers of reindeer in Siberia has declined dramatically since the post-Soviet era.

Mr Kerswell added: 'Commercialising"reindeer in the West may put numbers under further risk

Read more:

Reindeer as Tourist Attractions

The health of reindeer are often compromised as the traditions of nomads and their relationship with reindeer are capitalised upon as tourist attractions. Some nomadic people make considerable money during the short tourist season from tourists who wish to take photographs. This use of reindeer has a detrimental facet; as a result of their exploitation in this way  reindeer are prevented from migrating to higher mountain tundra where they need to take advantage of the abundance of vegetarian to prepare them for the winter with the consequence of undermining their health.

Reindeer are taken from their natural environment, removed from their herd , transported over long distances to temperate climates, for which they are not adapted,  to live with perhaps only one or two other reindeer or even worse alone in confinement in artificial conditions such as a car park in Finland, a toy shop In London, an art gallery in Berlin and a Christmas tree lot in California. All such actions involve obvious cruelty to reindeer, yet little is said. it was quite a task tracking down the information that appears below.

Christmas is a time when the mistreatment of reindeer is brought to the public attention yet in countries throughout the west and no doubt elsewhere, reindeer just like any other exotic animal are exploited, exhibited in zoos and circuses on a daily basis. But there are less known instances of exploitation such as the aforementioned art exhibition in Germany about which you may read more further down.

Enter a search on the internet and you will find websites advertising reindeer for hire, here is an example:

Live Reindeer for Christmas Events & Parties, Schools Visits, Home Visits, Parades

Reindeer Imported to Britain are dying after exposure to diseases from farm animals

An article in the Sunday Times reports that reindeer imported into the UK ( an estimated number of 500 in five years for hiring out for Christmas parades and Santa's grotto) are suffering premature death as a result of exposure to diseases from farm animals including a young reindeer dying of malignant catarrhal fever (a disease from sheep), seven reindeer contracting liver and gut flukes, a deer dying of lung infections and another of copper deficiency and parasites. A sharp increase in the death rate of young reindeer also results from an unsuitable diet, poor welfare and stress as a result of being removed from their natural environment.

Reindeer imported to Britain for Santa’s grottoes and festive parades are dying prematurely after exposure to diseases from British farm animals, a senior government vet has warned.

An official investigation has revealed a sharp increase in deaths in young reindeer, also linked to bad diet, poor welfare and the stress of being uprooted from their natural habitat.

Dr Aiden Foster, who carried out the research at the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA), said the deer, which normally live to 12 years, were badly suited to life in Britain. He said: “Reindeer are highly specialised Arctic deer. The recent fashion of keeping them in captive situations many degrees south of their normal range is fraught with health and welfare issues.”

The warning comes amid greater commercial exploitation of the animals, which are now a common festive feature.

The Sunday Times: Life in UK Proves Fatal to Reindeer by Jonathan Leake, Environment Editor

Continue reading this article

Toy Shop Exploits Live Reindeer

During the period before Christmas 2010 reindeer where bought into Hamleys Toy shop to promote Christmas and increase sales of toys. During their exhibition the reindeer were kept in a 4 metre square enclosure, fed unnatural food from a plastic container and poked by children. Where did the reindeer come from? The store was reluctant to say. 

These aren't my greatest work. I took them tonight at Hamleys, the store in the centre of London which is using them to flog toys at Christmas. And when they have finished with them they are getting in some penguins. I am a (redacted) lump of stone, big lump of a bloke, yet I have a tear in my eye as I look back at them and think about what this company is doing in the name of profits this Christmas.

That, and the fact I was using a compact camera, with a flash, and with the "bouncers" nearby , probably explains the appalling quality of these images, but I guess you re not here to see beauty.  There is nothing beautiful about this. It's crass and stupid and selfish and cruel and horrid and abusive. In summery it's just plain wrong

Read more of the  article The Saddest Pictures I Have ever Taken and look at the photographs:

Reindeer art exhibition

In November 2010 an exhibition by artist Carsten Höller using twelve live reindeer along with mice and canaries took place at Berlin’s Hamburger Bahnhof contemporary art museummuseum. The artist apparently was inspired by a verse in Hindu scripture “We have drunk of the soma; we have become immortal, we have seen the light; we have found the Gods.” The main ingredient  to this enlightening potion has it seems been lost. In 1968 American banker and amateur mycologist Gordon R. Wasson  suggested that the red and white poisonous fly Amanita mushroom which reindeer eat and which could be ingested by drinking their urine may be the lost ingredient. With this concept in mind Höller created a huge dual sided exhibition in two halves of the Museum's huge hall where the reindeer and other animals are displayed on one side to represent the “normal world,” and the other side a scene from the psychedelic “realm of soma.”

However artistic, original or creative is irrelevant and a matter of taste, the point however is that the exhibition uses reindeer and the other animals in an exploitive way by subjecting them to an unnatural and stressful environment.

Read the full story

Reindeer Exploited for Tourism

Reindeer where kept in car park in Rovaniemi Finland over the Christmas period until Epiphany 2010 as a tourist attraction. Cars were removed to the floor below. Reindeer numbering about six, according to cicumstacnes on the day, would be exposed to petrol fumes and removal into a stressful and unnatural environment would cause suffering.

According to Adjunct Professor Mauri Nieminen, who works as a senior researcher at the Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute, the reindeer park marks a new nadir in reindeer herding degradation.
”A parking garage full of petrol fumes is not a natural environment for reindeer but is bound to cause suffering to those animals”, Nieminen charges.

Read the full story

Reindeer escape Christmas attractions

A reindeer found roaming loose in a California strawberry field was also exploited in a similar manner in the run up to Christmas and was on display in a Christmas tree lot. Allegedly the reindeer experienced no harm. The reindeer however in my opinion  looks stressed as she is captured. You can see for yourself by watching the video below

A similar incident occurred in the UK when a dog frightened a reindeer . Read the full story:

Running with Reindeer in Alaska

Does not one see this as cruel? The event meant to emulate the equally cruel Spanish tradition of running with the bulls involves crowds of loud people numbering anything from 7000 to a thousand dressed in various costume, or in some cases barely half dressed despite the bitter cold of an Alaskan winter, race along side a half dozen or so reindeer.

Here is one report 

Seven little reindeer, looking a bit bewildered, stood next to their handlers as a crowd of roughly 1,000 costumed runners chatted excitedly at the start.

The reindeer were lined up behind the first heat of runners — several hundred women in costume. One had taped a paper bulls-eye to her back. Others masqueraded as carrots and lichen, both favorite foods of reindeer.

At the signal to go, the reindeer stampeded into the crowd...

Might seem amusing to the crowd but I wonder how the timid gentle reindeer feel?

Read the story watch the video:

Importation of Reindeer into the UK with tragic consequences

In recent years reindeer have become popular amongst British farmers, looking for ways to make money from their land they have now been enticed by the prospect of making money from reindeer, with the result that more and more reindeer are being imported into the country. For migratory animals taken from their natural habit where for the most part they are free to wander life in the UK and similar countries is a misery and a health hazard for these subarctic dwelling animals . They are bought to hire out for parties, shops, garden centres and other seasonal tourist attractions.

After Christmas what happens to them?

A good question and one well answered in the article in the Daily Mail

"The truth is that large numbers of these imported reindeer live a miserable existence for the rest of the year. "

"Dr John Fletcher, the pioneer of deer farming in Britain and founder of the Veterinary Deer Society, says: 'The trouble is that people start off seeing money, and finish up with reindeer dying simply from bad management.

'If they don't take advice or don't call in a vet, owners should be prosecuted.'

There are many problems with the way they are often kept in the UK. Reindeer are sold in ones and twos, yet they are herd animals and need contact with other reindeer.

Because a diet of grass can be bad for them (owners often feed them on specially prepared pellets), many are kept all year round in tiny sheds and yards.

In fact, in the wild, reindeer are active and range over many thousands of acres of clean browsing land.

But if they are kept in a small area, their hooves can grow too long and they can become infested with worm parasites carried by domestic animals.

It should be remembered, too, that these deer are Arctic animals. In the view of some experts, lowland, southern England is unsuitable for them because it is too warm."

How can we be so cruel to Rudolph?
By Robin Page

Read the rest of this excellent article

Hunting of Caribou

It is astonishing that in the twenty first century there are individuals who hunt animals simply for pleasure and that moreover the laws of every nation allow it. Along with many more familiar creatures who are hunted reindeer too are brutally hunted down and killed for simple sadistic pleasure. What else can it be, of all the heinous and brutal atrocities humans commit against other animals hunting has to be right up there perhaps along with animal experiments as the most barbarous mistreatment of our fellow creatures imaginable.

A search on the internet for hunting caribou and reindeer, who both by the way are the same species caribou being an American name for reindeer, and you will find numorous websites offering caribou hunting holidays and hunting associations

Here is one example of reindeer hunting on St. George island

Below is their advertising pitch

You can hunt trophy reindeer on St. George with great success as the island is relatively small and accessible by foot. Some of the largest reindeer anywhere in Alaska are found here. Local guides are available to set up hunts, transportation, and other logistics.

What possible pleasure can be derived from hunting down helpless gentle animals in any place or circumstance but trapped here in this small island what chance do these poor creatures have, they 're sitting ducks. The advertisement even emphasis this point.

This website even says that bow hunting is legal!

It is sad that so called civilised societies allow such dreadful cruelty to other sentient beings . It is even worse when people of this mentality take an active role in politics. What hope is there if even politicians take delight in hunting another sentient being, such as the American politician Sarah Palin. In this case what makes matters worse in addition to an unsettling feeling of unease, if not outright alarm that someone capable of such barbaric cruelty is so prominent in politics as the former governor and vice presidential candidate, is that a woman finds pleasure in hunting. Why that is more shocking may be considered sexist however such a sense of shock arises from the fact that in the main women usually outnumber men in the support of animal welfare and rights.

Seen in the reality show Sarah Palin's Alaska, Palin is filmed shooting and killing a caribou.

Read the story and watch a video here:

Her comments that most Alaskans need to hunt to stock up their freezers for the winter is in modern times simply ludicrous. “Hunting is something most Alaskans do to fill their freezer with meat for the winter,” Sarah Palin quoted in the above article.

"Most Alaskans" ! Hard to imagine isn't it.

Her comment towards the end of the article is more near to the truth:
“When you see that you have a successful hit, it’s a great feeling of accomplishment.”

If murdering an helpless animal gives Palin and others of her persuasion a sense of achievement there are indeed some sad sick people in the world. The thought of Palin as a potential presidential candidate is worrying.

Since compassion for animals is so intimately associated with goodness of character, it may be confidently asserted that whoever is cruel to animals cannot be a good man
(or a good women). Italics mine
Arthur Schopenhauer On the Basis of Morality

It is time that hunting was banned in any nation that wishes to be considered civilised:

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated
Mahatma Gandhi

Canada also has its share of Caribou hunting trips and again an internet search may well surprise you how prevalent such businesses are that felicitate hunting including clothing suppliers, one of which boosts that their 15,000 customers choose them as outfitting suppliers for fishing and caribou hunting. Yes hunting reindeer is big business and much money is made from this cruelty and the perverted pleasure of those who participate.

In additon to Alaska and Canada reindeer hunting takes place the world over and so called reindeer trophy hunting trips or "hunting safaris" as one travel agency refers to these sadistic escapades, organises trips to such places as Iceland

Whether it is greedy exploitative farmers here in the UK, hunting in the USA and elsewhere, art exhibitions, reindeer herding Sami or other indigenous people, full scale farming and so on it is time to leave reindeer alone to live their lives as nature intended.  There are few creatures who escape from the detrimental effect of human beings who it appears perceive every creature who draws breath as a means of exploitation, for food which we no longer need, clothing, labour or entertainment mainly for one reason only and that is profit and greed.
Read more about animal rights Animal Rights on this website

Sadly Rudolf and his reindeer companions normally associated with Christmas and the giving of presents is a much exploited and abused animal, exploitation which is unfortunately becoming far more common.

When you take your children to the Christmas reindeer display or parade or into your city's big toy shop to see reindeer in Santa's grotto, or buy reindeer meat or other product think carefully about what you are condoning, namely the exploitation and misery of these beautiful gentle creatures who thrilled our imagination when we were children with their flight through the skies on their Christmas eve mission.  Imagination is a wonderful thing do we really need to see a reindeer confined in a shop far way from his natural environment mostly kept in unsuitable conditions the rest of the year. Most certainly we do not need to farm and eat reindeer or any other animal.

The above is only a sample of the many ways in which reindeer are exploited. The exploitation of reindeer is far more extensive than I realised when beginning this series of pages featuring reindeer. Yet other than the recent WSPA campaign and a campaign by VIVA last Christmas 2010 concerning the selling of meat in Lidl there appears to be little specific action you can take concerning reindeer and some of the abuses mentioned above which although not mentioned obviously includes confinement in Zoos the world over.

If you wish to do something about the plight of reindeer or any other animal you can always approach any of the animal rights groups included in the following webpage:

Useful links and state your views in this regard

If I come across any campaigns or petitions I will include them here



1) Reindeer Association

2) Reindeer Steward Peninsula

3)Reindeer Blog

Credits: Banner photo Flick user  gruban and Animal Photos!

Snow background:

  Important please note:

I am not an animal expert of any kind just your average person who loves animals, all animals, and feels deeply about the plight of many of our fellow creatures. Neither am I a writer, or any other expert. Therefore please keep in mind that the information included in this website has been researched to the best of my ability and any misinformation is quite by accident but of course possible.

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