ORGANISERS of festive events across Bournemouth and Poole have defended their decision to use live reindeer, despite welfare concerns from the RSPCA.

Reindeer are highly adapted to living in Arctic conditions and are much more complicated to care for than cattle, goats and sheep and as a result are suffering, the animal welfare charity has said.

RSPCA senior scientific manager in wildlife Dr Ros Clubb said: "As Christmas approaches, we and other animal welfare charities are really concerned that reindeer used in festive events across the country could be suffering in silence.

Dr Clubb added: “Unfortunately, there are no formal requirements for registering reindeer and so we don’t know how many are being kept and where.

“We ask that people consider the welfare implications of the animals involved, and perhaps look for events which do not include live animals.”

Despite these concerns, the Coastal Bid has defended its choice to use live reindeer at a festive event held in Boscombe in November.

A spokesperson for the Coastal Bid said: “We would never use any animals if we thought there would be any harm to their welfare.

“The reindeer used at our festive event in Boscombe were from a reputable farm that has all appropriate licences and has been caring for these animals for nearly 20 years.

“They are born and raised on the farm, experiencing lots of interaction with people and they were at the event for a small number of hours.

“The reindeer gave huge amounts of joy to lots of children and their parents.

“The decision about next year’s festive activities will be made, as always, in the autumn.”

Two reindeer were also in attendance at Poole’s Santa on the Quay event, which the Poole BID team has defended.

Poole BID lead, Jacqui Rock, said: “The Santa on the Quay reindeer came from a family run business with over 15 years care experience and who are known for catering to all types of events ranging from weddings to the film and television industry.

"Throughout the few hours that both Comet and Prancer were with us, they were ably looked after by two of Santa's elves, who were constantly at their side with food and water, whilst having restrictions to ensure their safety, which is always paramount to us.

“That said, children young and old enjoyed the experience of being close up to an animal that they might only usually see once a year.

“We have made no decisions about what will be included in Poole Christmas 2022."