ANIMAL rights campaigners have called on the organisers of Christmas entertainment in the region to cancel plans to use live reindeer as part of events.

Harrogate Christmas Market and a reindeer parade organised by Darlington's Cornmill shopping centre are among the events targeted by campaign group PETA.

Kirsty Henderson, campaign co-ordinator for PETA, has written to the organisers of both events, urging a re-think on the use of live reindeer.

Neither event has said it plans to cancel the use of live animals.

Ms Henderson said: "A busy commercial centre, such as Darlington town centre, filled with hundreds of noisy shoppers, bright lights and excited children is an entirely unsuitable environment for reindeer or any other animals.

"The holiday season is supposed to be about joy and peace, not compromising the well-being of animals."

The reindeer parade will begin in Tubwell Row at 11am on November 30.

Susan Young, Cornmill centre manager, said: "We have worked with Cairngorm Reindeer Herd for over 20 years and we are assured that their practices are completely ethical and involve no distress to the animals concerned.

"They are very well established and practice good animal husbandry, and the welfare of the animals remains of upmost importance.

"It simply wouldn’t be an option for us to use live animals in the event if this was in any way cast into doubt."

Brian Dunsby, organiser of Harrogate Christmas Market, which runs from November 27 to 30, said: “This is the third year that we will be having reindeer at the market.

"We monitor them very carefully and they are extremely well looked after.

"The arguments raised by PETA are not valid – we are not using wild reindeer, they are farm bred and are used to dealing with children."