A shopping centre in regional NSW has come under fire on social media for using real ‘reindeer’ in their Christmas celebrations.
Footage and photos of the two animals showed them pulling a sleigh with bells through the carpark of Grafton Shoppingworld last Thursday before entering the centre.
More photos taken from inside the building showed the animals tied up.
7News reported that the reindeers were part of Grafton Shoppingworld’s Christmas parade on December 5 and visitors were allowed to take photos and pat them. The pair were reportedly at the shopping centre for two hours.
In the days following the event, social media users vented their outrage over the animals being used at the event.
One Twitter user tweeted out a photo of one of the reindeers tied up inside.
“This is Grafton Shoppingworld in #NSW where they use real rain deer for Santa Photos,” she said. “Is it necessary to have this poor animal in the crowded and noisy shopping mall? NO - is it #animalcruelty? YES.”
Others chimed in, claiming that the animals were stressed in the “noisy” centre.
“Sickening, clearly the animal is stressed, who allows such an absurdity?” read another comment.
It is not known if these commentators were present on the day.
This is Grafton Shoppingworld in #NSW where they use real rain deer for Santa Photos. Is it necessary to have this poor animal in the crowded and noisy shopping mall? NO - is it #animalcruelty? YES #santaphoto #raindeer pic.twitter.com/qERgJhzngU— Rovsen Giffard (@rovsengiffard) December 7, 2019
Following the online backlash, the Grafton Shoppingworld removed all photos and video of the animals from its Facebook page.
The shopping centre told 7News in a statement that the animals in the Christmas parade had been “well received” by visitors on the day.
"They were led by their NSW Department of Primary Industries-registered handling team tethered to a sleigh and parents and children had the opportunity to pet the animals under the supervision of their handlers at the conclusion," a spokesperson said.
“Grafton Shoppingworld ensured that the handling team complied with centre management protocols and are satisfied with the care provided to the animals during their brief appearance.”
The spokesperson added that the animals were fed and watered throughout their time at the shopping centre.
However, Grafton Shoppingworld said it wouldn’t be using reindeer at its Christmas events again.
Yahoo News Australia has reached out to the shopping centre over the matter.
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