Animal rights activists will stage a protest today against an exhibition of reindeer which is part of Paisley’s Christmas festivities.
The animals, from the Ayrshire Reindeer company are part of the WinterFest 2018 celebrations aimed at bringing shoppers to the town.
However, campaigners claim the animals, which are in a pen with a sleigh which people can enter to take photos, are showing signs of distress with crowds of people surrounding them, and patting them.
Richard Wylde, 23, a maths student at the University of Glasgow, who is one of the campaigners, said the protest which involves giving out leaflets is aimed at persuading people that animals are not for entertainment.
“We respect that Ayrshire Reindeer are trying to make a living but wish they would do so in a non-exploitative way.
“The reindeer are extremely stressed and showing it by repetitive behaviour such as continually stamping their back leg on the ground as if trying to push away and nodding their heads in a nervous manner.
“We would like people to see animals not as things of entertainment, but as living beings, and hope they will stay away from it. For families especially, it is a very bad idea to get your child used to seeing animals as objects of exploitation.”
Paul Gibson of Ayrshire Reindeer, claims he, his family and staff have been threatened by the protesters – allegations which the protesters deny.
“Ayrshire Reindeer are a family-run, non-profit making organisation and we abide by Sami rules for reindeer welfare. These protesters have photographed young children at the event, despite us objecting. While we are in a public place, this can have all sorts of repercussions for families.
A spokeswoman for Paisley First, said: “Paisley First is the sponsor of WinterFest which is organised by M&D Events.
“As in WinterFest 2017, M&Ds Events will again be using Ayrshire Reindeer for WinterFest 2018.
“Ayrshire Reindeer are passionate about reindeer and are based less than 20 miles from Paisley.
“The reindeer are returned to the herd every night and are part of the Reindeers Herders Association who abide by the Sami rules.
“The reindeer are domesticated and are comfortable with human contact.
“We are looking forward to welcoming many families to Paisley town centre this weekend as we approach Christmas to enjoy some festive fun with WinterFest.”