Radio City Called On to Pull the Live Animals From Its Christmas Spectacular

For Immediate Release:
November 26, 2014

David Perle 202-483-7382

New York

Based on years of animal welfare violations committed by the company that provides the Radio City Christmas Spectacular with animals, PETA is calling on Radio City Music Hall to remove the live animals from the show’s nativity scene.

In its letters to Radio City, PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment”—points out that the Dawn Animal Agency has a decades-long history of violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act, including failing to maintain a complete veterinary program and failing to provide animals with adequate living space. PETA also notes that the most successful animal-themed New York City stage shows, such as The Lion King and War Horse, use creative costuming and puppetry to portray animal characters—not captive animals.

Even people who are part of the show are upset about seeing the exotic animals kept in stressful, noisy conditions. One insider took this shot of a camel who is being confined to a dim, windowless room with a low ceiling backstage—a far cry from the animal’s natural habitat.

“There’s nothing ‘spectacular’ or Christmas-like about storing living, feeling animals in windowless backstage rooms like props,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “PETA is calling on Radio City Music Hall to stick to using willing performers who attract audiences from around the world—that means the Rockettes and other talented human performers, not captive animals.”

PETA’s correspondence with Radio City appears below.

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November 26, 2014


Jim Cooperman
Senior Vice President, Legal & Business Affairs, MSG Entertainment
The Madison Square Garden Company


Dear Mr. Cooperman:

I was disappointed to learn from you that the Madison Square Garden Company has chosen to continue forcing camels, sheep, and donkeys to participate in its Radio City Christmas Spectacular.

Audience members will be upset to learn that you have decided to ignore the decades of routine animal welfare violations that your animal handlers have been cited for. Dawn Animal Agency, which supplies the animals for your production, has repeatedly failed to comply with the minimal standards of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA). The U.S. Department of Agriculture has cited it for failing to keep enclosures clean and in good repair and failing to provide animals with adequate space as well as for incomplete programs of veterinary care. These problems go back decades, and while Dawn Animal Agency was assessed a monetary penalty in 1993 for its chronic, serious violations of the AWA, it continues to violate federal law.

I have enclosed a photograph taken backstage at this year’s Christmas Spectacular depicting a camel confined to a cramped back room with a low ceiling. Animals used in productions such as yours are deprived of everything that is natural and important to them. They are hauled to New York City in trucks, stored in back rooms like props, and subjected to the confusing lights and loud sounds on stage.

People come to Radio City’s holiday show to be dazzled by the Rockettes, the music, and the sets—not to see camels and sheep paraded across the stage. Some of Broadway’s most successful animal-themed productions, such as The Lion King and War Horse, creatively spotlight animal characters without forcing one exotic animal to take the stage. I hope you’ll agree that it’s time for Radio City Music Hall to revamp tradition and make the Christmas Spectacular animal-free. Can I hear from you by November 21 that Radio City has made the compassionate decision to stop using live animals in its productions? Thank you for your time and attention.


Brittany Peet, Esq.
Deputy Director
Captive Animal Law Enforcement
PETA Foundation

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