Pub cancels Santa’s reindeer visit after animal activists ‘threaten to burn it down’

·2 min read
Steve Eccles and Rebecca Eccles, owners of the Saddle Inn at Fulford, near York. (SWNS)
Steve Eccles and Rebecca Eccles, owners of the Saddle Inn at Fulford, near York. (SWNS)

A pub has cancelled a visit from Santa and his reindeer after animal rights activists allegedly threatened to burn it down if the event went ahead.

Steve Eccles, 45, and Rebecca Eccles, 43, said they received threats after inviting Father Christmas, his elves and two reindeer, to the Saddle Inn at Fulford, near York, to give out presents to children.

They claim they were sent abuse, including an email threatening to burn the pub down, after Freedom for Animals activists alerted their followers on social media.

Activists allegedly urged the couple to go “animal free” and bombarded them with thousands of “menacing” emails.

Police advised them to cancel the event following the threats.

The Saddle Inn in Fulford, near York. (Google Maps)
The Saddle Inn (Google Maps)

Mrs Eccles said: “I’m upset that someone has threatened to burn the pub down with us in it, but it more the fact that this was for the local community."

The event was scheduled to take place on the last Saturday before Christmas, with Mrs Eccles posting an advertisement on her pub’s Facebook page.

But on Tuesday evening she noticed a stream of emails flooding into the pub’s account telling her to cancel the event.

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Mrs Eccles added: “Many that we received that were threatening and menacing were from the Freedom for Animals group. 

"We had 400 in the space of two hours.”

Writing on Facebook, she said: “Obviously we have to take this seriously for the safety of our staff and our visitors and on the advice of the police we are going to have to cancel this event.”

Mrs Eccles added the reindeer visited last year and grazed happily in a cordoned off grass area, not in a "miserable little pen."

Freedom for Animals said it raises awareness about the “plight” of animals used as props in festive events, which it claimed were forced to endure cramped conditions, loud noises, and manhandling from the public.

In a statement, it said: “On Tuesday November 2, we used social media to draw our supporters’ attention to one event in York, where a pub was planning on having reindeer on site for just this kind of event.

“We asked our supporters to contact the venue and politely ask that they continue their celebrations without the use of live animals.

“The pub owners have alleged that some of the communication they have received from members of the public have been threatening in nature.

"We as an organisation do not condone any threats of violence and would not encourage anyone to make any.”

A North Yorkshire Police spokesperson added: “A complaint has been made about this matter and enquiries are ongoing.”

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