A busy shopping centre has come under fire after live reindeer were spotted as part of a Christmas display.
A photo was posted to Facebook depicting the two reindeer at a Christmas event at Westfield Tuggerah, NSW Central Coast.
Their presence has sparked a fierce debate among shoppers, with some deeming this “problematic and “unacceptable”, and others saying it’s all part of the “Christmas spirit”.
“Sick. What’s even the point, for viewing pleasure?” an angry woman questioned.
“They would never have gotten away with that if I still worked there as cleaning manager! I would have organised a protest! Unbelievable!” replied another.
“What is the point? To show kids two poor animals stuck in a shopping centre to perpetuate a ridiculous myth!” expressed an angry user.
Many others did not see the problem, as one person wrote: “No I don’t feel sick about it so all! I loved seeing the happiness on everyone’s faces as they realised they were ‘real’ reindeer!”
“To me, those reindeer looked as though they were loving life!”
The same commenter also said the animals are well taken care of by their owners.
“I met the owners of the reindeer’s a couple of weekends ago at Westfield and was really impressed with their ease and way with these gorgeous animals!” she wrote.
“It was very clear that they know their stuff as they were exceptionally caring and protective towards their animals.”
“I think people need to chill and recognise that most people would never intentionally place their animals in harm’s way (or people) even if those animals were used in a business context.”
While her comments provide potential insight into the reindeer’s treatment, many people pointed out that one reindeer could be seen with a visible wound on its side.
“The wound is probably a pressure sore from sitting,” one woman proposed.
“They’re probably drugged too to keep them quiet.”
“No deer would sit calmly in that environment!” she said.
“They are most probably sedated and they probably can’t walk probably with those hoof shoes on them,” another used chimed in.
The two animals were pictured sitting on plastic grass, with strong lighting beaming at them and hundreds of people walking by.
Shopping centres become especially busy and noisy during December, as people flock to the malls for last-minute shopping.
Wetsfield has been contacted by news.com.au for comment.