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Is Danny Boyle's London 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony simply cruel to animals?

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: June 14, 2012

  • A model of the farmyard scene, with Glastonbury Tor at its heart, that will be the crux of the opening ceremony at this summer’s Olympic Games

  • Director Danny Boyle’s Boyle’s attempt to recreate the rainy British countryside in East London is set to cost £27 million – almost thirty times the cost of a real 150-acre farm, which normally has a free supply of rain

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Award-winning director Danny Boyle has ambitiously attempted to bring something completely new to London for the Olympic’s opening ceremony– a tranquil and pleasant environment complete with its own set of farmyard animals.

But while many would argue heading to the capital in the middle of Games mania is cruel for anyone, animal rights campaigners have condemned plans to the proposed use of live animals during the opening ceremony.

Around 130 farmyard animals are set to flock to London to realise the vision of the Trainspotting creator for his West Country-esque opening ceremony. Animal Aid has blasted the bizarre spectacle, saying it risks “bringing Britain into disrepute.”

The London 2012 organising committee has maintained that the welfare of the animals is of the utmost of importance and have brought in two performing animal consultants from the RSPCA to supervise animal welfare in the run up to the opening of the Games.

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However, Kate Fowler, head of campaigns for Animal Aid is critical of the RSPCA’s involvement in the ceremony.

“Well they’re not animal rights consultants, because anyone who cared about the welfare of animals wouldn’t have okayed that,” she said.

“I don’t know how anyone can say that those animals are going to be OK in a packed stadium with lights and fireworks thousands of people shouting and screaming and waving banners.”

“Particularly for the sheep, which are notoriously nervous.”

Tom Woodley is one of the RSPCA consultants involved in preparations. He says that the RSPCA are involved because they want to ensure that all animals used are treated fairly.

“The organisers wanted our advice and guidance, and there’s nothing we can do to stop them using animals, it’s not illegal for them to use animals.” he said.

The RSPCA has already had to step in to stop London 2012 from using pigs in the opening ceremony.

Ducks, sheep and horses will all be involved in hours of rehearsals which will see them grazing and walking around in anticipation of the big day. They will then appear alongside a recreation of Glastonbury Tor, fake rain, two mosh pits and Sir Paul McCartney on July 27, at a cost of £27 million.

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