South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck has backed a campaign against the use of camels in South Tyneside Council’s Christmas parade – slamming the practice as ‘outdated’ and potentially dangerous.
Ms Lewell-Buck expressed her disappointment with the authority’s plans after she was contacted by animal rights activist Fiona Munro, whose petition against the event has attracted more than 77,000 signatures.
Due to take place this Friday, the Christmas Wonderland Parade sees camels take part as the festive event goes through the town centre.
The email, sent by Ms Lewell-Buck, read: “Thank you for contacting me regarding the use of live camels in the council’s Winter Wonderland Parade.
“I congratulate you on attaining many thousands of signatures for your petition.
“I do share your concerns and I do support your campaign.
“Personally I find the use of animals for entertainment a rather outdated and in this particular instance akin to using animals in circuses which Labour have opposed on many occasions.
“I believe this isn’t just about the issue of the welfare of the camels itself but this should be about changing the culture of our society.
“I also have concerns that the weather may be unsuitable, there may be loud noises and flashing lights that could disturb the camels, which could even lead to accidents happening, we must remember these are large animals that are very strong and could never be fully tamed.
“I am aware of other local authorities stopping using animals in similar events and I would be pleased if South Tyneside Council would follow their lead.
“I am disappointed that South Tyneside Council continues with this outdated practice and I have written to the chief executive of the council to express your concerns and will contact you further when I receive a reply.
“In the meantime thank you once again for contacting me on such an important issue.”
Ms Munro’s petition has now attracted 77,168 signatures, however, many of those who have signed the petition appear to be from outside of the borough.
A Gazette poll which asked readers: Do you think the camel parade should be stopped because it is cruel to the animals? showed the majority of residents were in favour of the Christmas event.
In our poll just 38% were in favour of scrapping the parade.