When 19-year-old Lucy Currie heard the University of Hertfordshire student union planned a live reindeer display at its annual Christmas Market, she sprang into action.
The first-year sports therapy student and vegan launched a Change.org petition to “prevent the misery of these beautiful and gentle creatures.”
The petition, with 5,329 signatures, led the student union at the university north of London to hold a referendum on the question. The final vote, announced Wednesday, came out slightly in favor of keeping the live reindeer, according to a post on the student union’s website – but the organization decided to cancel the display anyway.
“We are genuinely committed to being student-led, and we, therefore, felt that because such a high number of our students asked us not to have the reindeer, and it was on this basis that the original debate was being had, it would be best to source an alternative form of entertainment at our Christmas Market,” the post read.
“Thank you so much to everyone that signed and shared the petition, and took part in the online action,” Currie told The Hertfordshire Mercury. “I definitely couldn't have done it alone, the support of everyone involved was amazing. I hope the university will continue to find alternatives that do not exploit animals at future events.”
Animal Aid, one of the United Kingdom’s largest animal rights organizations, also had written to the university to protest the event.
“Whilst we are positive that their intentions were to bring festive joy to students and members of the public alike, this is easily achieved without putting the well-being of animals at risk,” campaign manager Tod Bradbury told the newspaper.
However, the student union now faces a counter-petition on Change.org seeking to reinstate the live reindeer display at the Dec. 7 market.
“The number of votes for reindeer was greater than the number of votes against, however, the SU decided not to book the reindeer anyway,” wrote Richard Watkins on the petition. “Not only is this a waste of the voters and SU time, it also goes against the principle of democracy.”
The counter-petition, launched Wednesday, had 32 signatures as of Friday morning.