Santa's Animal Rights Violations
Start writing a post
Lifestyle

Santa's Animal Rights Violations

Responsible Tourism: Dog Sleds vs Reindeer Sleighs

283
Santa's Animal Rights Violations
Karisa Poedjirahardjo

Not a lot happens in Rovaniemi, a little city in northern Finland and popular landing spot for Lapland vacationers. The city gets most of it’s revenue from tourists seeking a winter wonderland, boasting attractions such as a ski lodge, a small arctic zoo, and the ever-popular Santa Claus Village.

Most people who come to Rovaniemi seek a unique adventure. Tour companies offer safaris to go Northern Lights hunting, snowshoe hiking through the constant fluff of snow that coat the mountains, cross country skiing, and perhaps the must-see on everybody’s list: dog and reindeer sledding.

Our first day there, we enlisted the expertise of Bearhill Husky and took a 90 minute excursion through the wilderness with a team of huskies. Even before we had started the dogs were howling with excitement, tugging at the harnesses, they couldn’t wait to start running.

Talking to our guide, we found that they were in the process of building a fence to cover the perimeter of the acre of land owned by the kennel. This would allow the dogs to run around freely in the summer when they couldn’t get their exercise from mushing. All in all, the guides seemed to know what they were doing with the dogs, knew each of the hundred by name and personality, and seemed to care for their work and their animals.

After having a successful dog-sledding experience, we decided to see the reindeer sleighs the next day while we were at the Santa Claus Village. Throughout it, however, I couldn’t help but feel sick to my stomach.

With the huskies, we kept having to brake because the dogs were so excited and going too fast. The reindeer showed none of the excitement of the dogs. Our guide had keep pushing the reindeer onwards using his reins. Moreover, the skin on my reindeer had started to redden, as if raw and chafed from pulling the sleigh.

Its antlers had also broken off, but no one seemed to do anything about it. Now, I know reindeers shed their antlers every year, but I have to wonder about the state of these animals. This looked like a wound left untreated.

And then, as if adding insult to injury, they had left blankets made of reindeer fur for guests to wrap themselves in while in the sleigh.

The Lappish have a long history with reindeers, many owning reindeer farms inherited from their ancestors. I don’t doubt that there are many happy reindeers in Rovaniemi, but you’d have to show me a little bit more evidence before I’m convinced that these ones were.

I left feeling guilty for contributing to a system that perpetuated this treatment of animals. From the moment you entered the Santa Claus village, you can tell it's a total tourist trap. We should have known that this would mean their main goal is tourism and profit, and probably didn't care much for the quality of our interaction with the animals.

At the same time, I wasn't sure. Lots of people had come back from her with great experiences, none of the travel sites like TripAdvisor listed any complaints about the reindeer. After all, I was only a tourist, what did I know about raising reindeer? Or perhaps the entire industry was cruel and the happy huskies were merely a facade too.

The truth is I still don't know. But even though I can only say this with the narrow viewpoint of a tourist (so take it with a grain of salt), I know what I saw was a team of dogs much happier than the reindeer pulling sleighs, and I am reminded of a quote by Anna Lappé:

Every time you spend money, you're casting a vote for the kind of world you want.

Whether we benefit from it or not, there's no denying that in our consumerist world, people follow the money. As travelers as well as consumers, it's our job to be careful of where and how we spend that money, and that we are contributing to businesses and organizations that are using their resources responsibly.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Robert Bye on Unsplash

I live by New York City and I am so excited for all of the summer adventures.

Keep Reading... Show less
Featured

The invention of photography

The history of photography is the recount of inventions, scientific discoveries and technical improvements that allowed human beings to capture an image on a photosensitive surface for the first time, using light and certain chemical elements that react with it.

187354

The history of photography is the recount of inventions, scientific discoveries and technical improvements that allowed human beings to capture an image on a photosensitive surface for the first time, using light and certain chemical elements that react with it.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Exposing Kids To Nature Is The Best Way To Get Their Creative Juices Flowing

Constantly introducing young children to the magical works of nature will further increase the willingness to engage in playful activities as well as broaden their interactions with their peers

1641087

Whenever you are feeling low and anxious, just simply GO OUTSIDE and embrace nature! According to a new research study published in Frontiers in Psychology, being connected to nature and physically touching animals and flowers enable children to be happier and altruistic in nature. Not only does nature exert a bountiful force on adults, but it also serves as a therapeutic antidote to children, especially during their developmental years.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

5 Simple Ways To Give Yourself Grace, Especially When Life Gets Hard

Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we are becoming.

1028291
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash

If there's one thing I'm absolutely terrible at, it's giving myself grace. I'm easily my own worst critic in almost everything that I do. I'm a raging perfectionist, and I have unrealistic expectations for myself at times. I can remember simple errors I made years ago, and I still hold on to them. The biggest thing I'm trying to work on is giving myself grace. I've realized that when I don't give myself grace, I miss out on being human. Even more so, I've realized that in order to give grace to others, I need to learn how to give grace to myself, too. So often, we let perfection dominate our lives without even realizing it. I've decided to change that in my own life, and I hope you'll consider doing that, too. Grace begins with a simple awareness of who we are and who we're becoming. As you read through these five affirmations and ways to give yourself grace, I hope you'll take them in. Read them. Write them down. Think about them. Most of all, I hope you'll use them to encourage yourself and realize that you are never alone and you always have the power to change your story.

Keep Reading... Show less
Entertainment

Breaking Down The Beginning, Middle, And End of Netflix's Newest 'To All The Boys' Movie

Noah Centineo and Lana Condor are back with the third and final installment of the "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" series

933645
Netflix

Were all teenagers and twenty-somethings bingeing the latest "To All The Boys: Always and Forever" last night with all of their friends on their basement TV? Nope? Just me? Oh, how I doubt that.

I have been excited for this movie ever since I saw the NYC skyline in the trailer that was released earlier this year. I'm a sucker for any movie or TV show that takes place in the Big Apple.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

4 Ways To Own Your Story, Because Every Bit Of It Is Worth Celebrating

I hope that you don't let your current chapter stop you from pursuing the rest of your story.

610087
Photo by Manny Moreno on Unsplash

Every single one of us has a story.

I don't say that to be cliché. I don't say that to give you a false sense of encouragement. I say that to be honest. I say that to be real.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

How Young Feminists Can Understand And Subvert The Internalized Male Gaze

Women's self-commodification, applied through oppression and permission, is an elusive yet sexist characteristic of a laissez-faire society, where women solely exist to be consumed. (P.S. justice for Megan Fox)

392726
Paramount Pictures

Within various theories of social science and visual media, academics present the male gaze as a nebulous idea during their headache-inducing meta-discussions. However, the internalized male gaze is a reality, which is present to most people who identify as women. As we mature, we experience realizations of the perpetual male gaze.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

It's Important To Remind Yourself To Be Open-Minded And Embrace All Life Has To Offer

Why should you be open-minded when it is so easy to be close-minded?

504626

Open-mindedness. It is something we all need a reminder of some days. Whether it's in regards to politics, religion, everyday life, or rarities in life, it is crucial to be open-minded. I want to encourage everyone to look at something with an unbiased and unfazed point of view. I oftentimes struggle with this myself.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments