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Animal rights activists try to halt camel parade

CONTROVERSY ... Cruelty-Free Christmas is opposed to the use of camels in South Tynesides Christmas Wonderland Procession.

CONTROVERSY ... Cruelty-Free Christmas is opposed to the use of camels in South Tynesides Christmas Wonderland Procession.

A PETITION signed by more than 1,000 people will be handed over in a last-ditch bid to stop camels being used in a festive parade.

Animals rights activists are outraged that the animals are being used in the Christmas Wonderland Procession in South Shields on Friday evening.

Supporters of the campaign group Cruelty-Free Christmas have been flooding South Tyneside Council’s phone lines and its Facebook events page with complaints.

But council bosses, who have assured people the animals are well cared for, say the event will go ahead as planned.

The camels, carrying the three wise men, will lead the procession from 4pm from South Shields Museum and Art Gallery to the Market Square and St Hilda’s Gardens.

They will be followed by schoolchildren, carol singers and street entertainers carrying lanterns. When they arrive at the gardens, a dazzling display of festive lights will be unveiled, including polar bears, reindeers, icicle fountains and a Santa.

Workers are busy installing the illuminations.

Cruelty-Free Christmas, which has 350 supporters on Facebook, is planning to stage a peaceful protest along the route.

Chairman Jonathon Proctor, 21, from Newcastle, said: “We are very angry about this, because animals should not be used in displays.

“We have got a petition and there are over 1,000 signatures so far.

“We are going to hand that in on Friday morning at South Shields Town Hall.”

South Tyneside Council said the camels are domesticated and that it has had a lot of positive feedback from the public about the event, with families saying they are looking forward to it.

A council spokesman added: “We would like to reassure the public that we are using a specialist, reputable company with the highest standards in animal welfare and training and a track record for events across the country.

“We are confident that the camels are well looked after and they will be in the care of experienced handlers at all times on the day, to ensure the safety of both the animals and members of the public.”

Twitter: @shieldsgazedu

 

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