12/24/14 Christmas Crib on Kaptol
City Of Zagreb Veterinary Office
Fra Andrije Kacica Miosica 9
December 24, 2014
In regard to the numerous reports our organization received from citizens about the inappropriate keeping and behaving towards animals with the purpose of using them for entertainment and making profit, we paid a compliance visit to "Live Christmas Crib" in Zagreb (Kaptol 3) on December 23, 2014.
We found a donkey, a goat, a sheep and several rabbits in cages, fenced areas and housings that due to their size are definitively not appropriate for animal keeping. The rabbits are placed in small wooden cages just big enough for them to fit, and it is difficult for them to turn around. The goat and the sheep are out in the open, in an area that is not covered, is fenced off and totally inappropriate for animals of that size. The donkey is in an even smaller fenced-off area, where he cannot even turn around. All the animals, apart from the rabbits, are additionally tied with a rope about one meter long.
The animals are exposed to constant crowds and noise made by never-ending rivers of people that are pouring into the "Live Christmas Crib." Apart from that, it is not pointed out anywhere that animals should not be agitated or touched. From one second to the next, hands of curious people appear, and constantly touch, stroke, pull on animals, making noise, shouting and talking over each other. Apart from the noise made by people's voices, the noise of nearby fireworks is even louder and more stressful for these animals that are exposed to this unnecessary stress.
The animals are obviously upset trying to avoid unwanted touches and shouting, and the rest of the time they seem very apathetic, pretending not to see the many hands pointed towards their heads. Camera flashes cause additional stress – the animals are so exhausted that they twitch uncontrollably trying to avoid the flashes of the cameras. The animals mainly stand without moving like statues, and we have reason to believe that they have been given sedatives in order to remain still.
Insufficiently long ropes the animals are tied with stop them from being able to at least move away from bullying people. Mostly children are persistently shoving their hands into cages with rabbits that are already too small, and the rabbits have nowhere to run and hide. Parents are putting their kids on the donkey's back, like on a production line, they unstoppably push hay into the sheep's and goat’s mouths, not caring if they are causing any fear or pain or potential injuries to the animals.
December's temperatures are already low and they are due to drop over the next few days. It is hard to conclude if the animals are receiving necessary food and water, however, due to the fact that they are scared and exposed to noise and touch of strangers, it wouldn’t be surprising if they are lacking this too.
With regard to the applicable laws of the Republic of Croatia, we are disgusted with such kind of treatment of animals on the public area, especially since this type of "entertainment" is silently supported and permitted by the competent institution. The Croatian Animal Protection Act prohibits the use of animals in performances and exhibitions if they are forced to behave unnaturally or if the animals are caused pain, suffering, injury or fear:
(1) It is prohibited to kill animals, subject them to pain, suffering and injury, and intentionally expose them to fear, contrary to the provisions of this Act.
(2) It is prohibited to:
11. use animals in circuses and other shows, film and television productions, advertisements, exhibitions or competitions in which animals are forced to behave unnaturally, or are subject to pain, suffering, injury or fear,
13. expose animals to adverse temperatures and weather conditions, contrary to accepted animal hygiene standards for individual animal species, or to lack of oxygen, thus causing them pain, suffering, injury or fear.
Besides this, these events are being held in public area where we observe a clear and direct violation of Article 30 of the Offences against Public Order and Peace Act which forbids torture and killing of animals in public, which reads that those who, without supervision and care, keep animals that could hurt or endanger citizens or those who torture animals in a public place or treat them badly in another way, shall be punished for this offence with a monetary fine.
We consider the using animals for promotional purposes unacceptable in a manner that they are being forced into unnatural behavior and kept in unacceptable and humiliating conditions. Holidays can be marked in many other, nicer and more appropriate ways than to have a "Live Christmas Crib" which equals exposure of living, defenceless animals to suffering caused by conditions they are being kept in, and all for the purpose of fun. Instead of live animals, figurines could be used that would be a solid replacement and send a humane message which this kind of event intends to show.
It is sad that a live Christmas Crib became a long term practice and that none of the governing institutions react. We don't want to believe that this year again nothing will happen apart from our appeals.
Because of all above mentioned we request inspection as soon as possible and for the animals to be removed from these unacceptable conditions. We thank you in advance and ask to be informed in writing about the deeds and measures taken.
Anamarija Helena Milardovic
- Ministry of Agriculture, Office of Veterinary and Food Safety, FAO dr. sc. Mirjana Matausic - Pisl, dr. vet. med. assistant to the Minister, Planinska ulica 2a, 10000 Zagreb
- I Police station Zagreb, T. J. J. Strossmayera 3, 10000 Zagreb