Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Would you give your child a dead animal for Christmas?

Posted: 25 May 2005

10th December 2004: Believe it or not, that’s what some children will be finding in their stockings on Christmas day, thanks to the sickening current trend for making soft toys from real animal fur. In fact, these toys are so repellent, they top a list of the least ethical Christmas presents to give this year, compiled by Animal Defenders International (ADI). Other toys that promote animal suffering include live animal ‘habitats’, animal circus and rodeo toys, and computer games where you can hunt wildlife.

Jan Creamer, Chief Executive of ADI, comments: “Despite the great strides made in animal protection in recent years, a few highly questionable items have crept into the toy market this Christmas. Is it really appropriate to teach impressionable young minds that live animals can be treated as toys, or that dead animals make great gifts?

“That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the six worst children’s presents to give this Christmas, along with a great, ethical alternative for each. With a little thought, it’s simple to give children gifts that will teach them how to love and respect animals rather than treat them as commodities.”

Six of the worst Christmas gifts for children:

1. Cuddly toys made from dead animals – such as the Nauticalia ‘intrepid ship’s cat’, £24.95. This is a particularly sickening toy as an animal has been killed to make it. Most of these toys use fur from factory farmed rabbits reared in small, bare cages. Another company, Mr Ken’s Furs, specializes in stuffed animals made from fur pelts – customers get a choice of wild or farmed animals.

The alternative: one of the thousands of faux fur toys available such as’s breathing cat.

2. A toy circus – made by Playmobil and available at John Lewis, £39.95. Complete with cages and a ring master brandishing a whip, this toy circus openly promotes animal suffering. In a recent survey commissioned by ADI, 63% of respondents agreed that circuses with animals should be banned, and we’re appalled that John Lewis is openly selling a toy that so obviously goes against public opinion.

The alternative: toys that encourage the care of animals such as the Animal Hospital mobile vet centre made in conjunction with the Rolf Harris Animal Hospital show.

3. Live toys – such as the Animal Planet: Planet Frog Habitat available at, approximately £16.50. Tiny tadpoles are shipped direct to your home in this utterly horrendous ‘hands-on’ gift, and the frogs are forced to live confined in a wholly unnatural toy environment. Thankfully, the Government has proposed raising the age at which someone can buy a live animal so children should, in future, be banned from buying such awful things.

The alternative: helping the rehabilitation of a rescued animal through one of the many adopt-an-animal schemes available – contact ADI for details of its Adopt Toto scheme.

4. Hunting computer game – available to download from A truly repellent game that involves children hunting their way through a variety of scenarios in search of trophy animals, it does nothing more than encourage users to shoot at anything that moves. During the recent CITES conference, people were outraged to hear that trophy hunting quotas for rhinos and leopards had been extended in some African countries. Yet with this game, people are encouraged to ‘Hunt your way through more than 100 classic hunting scenarios in search of trophy animals.’

The alternative: computer games with positive environmental messages.

5. Hunting trips –many children will be taken out to Boxing Day hunt meets which, aside from encouraging them to actively participate in animal cruelty, will soon be illegal too. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is offering festive Turkey Hunts for Children and lessons in hunting for youngsters. Hardly a message of peace on earth.

The alternative: make the most of the right to roam by exploring the countryside on foot and seeing wildlife in its natural habitat – visit for more information.

6. Professional Bull Riding Figurines – like animal circuses, rodeos mean animal misery for human entertainment.

Finally, it’s been said a million times – ‘don’t buy pets for Christmas’. And yet, come the new year, hundreds of unwanted kittens and puppies will have been abandoned. Instead, an AIBO robot dog from Sony will teach your children how to care for a pet and won’t suffer when it’s thrown to the back of the cupboard.

Live animals aren’t toys, there’s no place for them under the Christmas tree.


Note to editors

ADI can provide media with:

Interviews (studio, ISDN or telephone) with its chief executive Jan Creamer and campaigns director Tim Phillips, both seasoned campaigners and well-known spokespeople for the animal protection movement.
Well-researched facts and information about animal protection in the UK and overseas.

© Animal Defenders International 2019