MY attention was drawn to a reader’s letter on the Guardian website complaining about live reindeer being on display at a local garden as part of its Christmas display.

Reader Maureen Choudhury described it as ‘shocking and cruel exploitation of innocent wild animals’ and criticised the garden centre as ‘shamelessly promoting this to be a magical experience’.

Ms Choudhury pointed out that the circus industry and other live animal entertainment has disappeared largely in civilized nations and suggested that wild animals should be treated with ‘due respect and not be put through unnecessary pain and suffering’.

But is she right and is the garden centre wrong?

To be honest, I’d never really given the issue much thought but after Ms Choudhury raised it as a problem, I did a little research.

From what I can gather, there are commercial companies that specialise in hiring out the animals. A quick Google search brought up companies such as The Reindeer Centre whose website states: “We imported a few reindeer from Sweden some 15 years ago and now have in excess of 100 reindeer thanks to our successful breeding programme.

“We can cater for occasions of all sizes including corporate functions, garden centre promotions, shopping malls/centres, Christmas events, private parties, weddings, photo/magazine shoots, television work, children’s parties, town centre Christmas lights switch-on and opening parades and school visits.”

And it’s far from the only company carrying out this kind of work.

Needless to say, animal rights group PETA is not happy with this, saying: “Reindeer belong in the Arctic and sub-arctic regions of the world, where they live in herds and roam freely over vast open ranges.

“Being carted around from one display to another, kept in tiny sheds and pens, forced to pull sleighs, and exposed to bright lights and loud noises prevents them from engaging in any of their natural types of behaviour.”

And PETA has a message to animal lovers: “There are many other ways for people to celebrate the holidays that are more in keeping with the Christmas spirit than treating animals like decorations.”

Last year, I and my family spent a week at Center Parcs and as part of its ‘Winter Wonderland’ display was a pen with several reindeer. They looked cared for and well (but I’m no expert in animal welfare) and had room to move around.

And my granddaughter, who was aged three at the time, was delighted and entranced to see them. It was a magical experience for her.

Interestingly, this year we returned to Center Parcs and there were no live reindeer in the display. Was the experienced diminished for her? No, not in the slightest.

I think I’m with Ms Choudhury on this one. Using live animals for our entertainment somehow seems wrong in the 21st century.

n What is wrong with people? I ask this after reading a couple of reports recently.

The first was the perplexing tale of eight youths who were arrested after missiles were thrown at moving cars from a bridge. Several vehicles were damaged after items were hurled from the canal bridge over Lumb Brook Road.

Fortunately for all concerned, no one was seriously injured.

And then we have the story about vandals setting fire to wheelie bins in Whittle Hall in the early hours.

So my question is: Why would anyone do these sorts of things? What are the thought processes that allow anyone to think it’s a good thing to thrown objects from a bridge or set wheelie bins alight?

Where, as a society, have we gone wrong? And what on earth can we do about it?

Frankly, I don’t know but any suggestions will be gratefully received.