Live reindeer banned from popular Christmas market after footage of animal abuse at the centre where they live

Organisers of the family event at Leeds Castle in Kent said they acted after visitor concerns.

Animals kept by Kent Reindeer Centre, were exposed to “shocking suffering”, according to Animal Aid campaigners.

The charity also discovered abuse at other farms elsewhere in England and said the animals were not “props” for festive entertainment.

A spokesman for Leeds Castle said: “Following visitor concerns, Leeds Castle has taken the decision to no longer have live reindeer at our Christmas Market.

“As a family friendly attraction, Leeds Castle is keen to bring joy and happiness to our visitors especially at Christmas time but following the feedback we have received, we no longer feel it is appropriate to have reindeer as part of our event.”

A video showed one worker — since sacked — kick a reindeer.

A Kent Reindeer Centre spokesman said: “All our animals are much loved and well cared for.”

Tor Bailey, campaign manager at Animal Aid, said: “Our investigations have revealed the shocking suffering of these gentle animals. Reindeer are sensitive wild animals, not props to be paraded around and used for human entertainment.”

News reindeers would not appear at the market, which runs across four weekends in November and December, was welcomed by visitors.

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