Vegan Protest Shuts Down 27-Year-Old Easter Sheep Race

A petition backed by more than 50,000 supporters prompts organizer Hoo Farm to cancel the Sheep Grand National, an annual event where sheep run for food with stuffed animals strapped to their backs.


United Kingdom-based zoo Hoo Farm Animal Kingdom cancelled its annual sheep racing events—The Sheep Grand National and Sheep Gold Cup—after it received backlash from activists who sought to ban the races. The races began in 1991 and involved sheep running over fences to reach food with toy animals attached to their backs. The cancellation was prompted by a petition launched by vegan activist Samantha Francis, who co-founded organization Lambenations, and signed by 52,516 supporters. According to Lambenations, because sheep are “prey animals”—who run only when they fear for their lives—pitting them against each other is inherently cruel, particularly in the presence of noisy crowds, as some force needs to be involved to get them to run. “The cancellation of these races is a win for the sheep because any animal racing is exploitative,” Francis told VegNews. “It is also a win because it raises awareness and will hopefully make others who plan to hold such events to think twice, as there is clearly a large public opinion against such events.” Francis is now focusing on other races in the region with the hopes of ending the cruel practice altogether.

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