12/29/15 Reporting the Christmas Crib on Kaptol

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Veterinary Office of the City Of Zagreb
Veterinary Inspection
Fra Andrije Kacica Miosica 9
10000 Zagreb

December 21, 2015

Dear Sir or Madam,

Last year, we filed a report regarding the issue of holding and using animals for entertainment purposes, and this year we are filing it again. The event is called the "Live Christmas Crib" and is being organised by the Cenacolo Community. The "Live Christmas Crib" will be staged in front of the Zagreb Cathedral on Kaptol from December 19, 2015 to January 6, 2016.

The last year's report was filed on the basis of our visit to the "Live Christmas Crib" scene in Zagreb. We noticed that the animals (a donkey, a goat, a sheep, and rabbits) were not kept in appropriate conditions, but placed in fenced areas and premises which were not adequate in size. The animals were also fastened with short pieces of rope.

The rabbits were kept in small wooden cages just big enough for them to fit in, with not enough space to turn around. The goat and the sheep were kept in an uncovered outdoor area enclosed by a fence of inadequate length for an animal of such size. The donkey was kept in an even smaller fenced area, a pen which did not even allow him to turn around.

The animals were exposed to large crowds of noisy visitors, and there was no sign warning that the animals must not be disturbed or touched. They were constantly being disturbed by the flashing of the cameras, touching, stroking, tugging, riding and shouting. Apart from the noise generated by the people shouting, the noise made by firecrackers was even louder and more stressful. People would take turns putting their children on the back of the donkey one after the other. They would shove straw into the sheep's and the goat's mouth, not caring whether that was scaring or hurting the animals.

The animals were noticeably upset and were trying to avoid the unwanted touching and the noise, and for the rest of the time they stood motionless and seemed completely apathetic, and we think it is reasonable to assume that they were being administered narcotics to keep them calm. They were also noticeably tired and would jerk impulsively in an effort to avoid the flashing of the cameras and the touching, which they were unable to do because of the short ropes they were fastened with. We expect the same will happen this year as well.

Because the animals are kept at low temperatures, with no control over whether they are being given enough food and water, or what is being done to them, we ask that they be removed from the "Live Christmas Crib" scene. The scene can also be staged in a dignified manner by the members of the Community who are already participating in this event. Instead of animals, they may use figurines which would faithfully represent said animals and at the same time send out a humane message, which is the intended purpose of such an event in the first place.

We warn that this sort of "entertainment" has the tacit support of the authorities, seeing as this is an event which takes place in a public space and has been going on for several years. It is a violation of the Article 30 of the Misdemeanors against Public Order and Peace Act, which prohibits the killing and torture of animals in public places. Additionally, the Animal Protection Act prohibits the use of animals for entertainment and exhibition purposes if they are forced to behave unnaturally, or are subject to pain, suffering, injury or fear.

Using animals for promotional purposes in such a way that they are forced to behave unnaturally or are kept in inadequate and humiliating conditions, as well as using them for entertainment purposes, is entirely in opposition to the legal provisions. Therefore, considering the duration of said event, we ask for an urgent inspection and the removal of animals from inappropriate conditions.

Thank you in advance and we ask you ti please keep us apprised of the measures taken.

Yours sincerely,

Luka Oman,
Animal Friends Croatia


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