Objections to the pink-dyed sheep used as props at the Latitude Festival

A feature of the music festival called Latitude which takes place at the campsite in Henham Park, Southwold, UK, are the pink sheep. They are props to decorate the festival and designed to provide some publicity for it. It’s effective. And it is a tradition. They are a photographer’s favourite because they do make a good photograph, don’t they?

The festival takes place this weekend and the organisers have come under fire for their pink sheep. The RSPCA have objected to the practice. And there is a petition online requesting that the festival stop dyeing the sheep. It is not just spraying the sheep with pink dye, it is the fact that they are forced to decorate the festival and therefore be present when there’s lots of noise.

The petition states: “Latitude festival has dyed a flock of sheep pink and released them onto the festival grounds. These are sentient beings, not party props. Intelligent and sensitive, these animals are easily frightened and will not appreciate the loud noise and drunken revellers.”

They want the sheep removed from the grounds immediately and the tradition stopped. The complaints appear to have started when the festival organisers tweeted the announcement that: “The sheep have arrived!”

The festival organisers explained that the animals are “dip dyed using natural, water-based dye which they are used to as part of their normal farm life for insecticides and parasites like itch-mite, blow-flies, ticks and lice”. In other words, it is a humane practice and does no harm to the sheep.

The Twitter exchange below highlights the polarisation of the opposing points of view about using sheep as props at the music festival particularly when you dye them pink. I think it sums the problem up very succinctly.

Twitter communication sums up the different points of view on the tradition of dying sheep pink at the Lattitude Festival

Twitter communication sums up the different points of view on the tradition of dying sheep pink at the Lattitude Festival

This year, by the way, the pink sheep were kept under cover, in the shade, as the photograph above shows, to protect them from the high temperatures currently experienced in the south-east of Britain.

This has prevented festival goers capturing a selfie with the sheep. As I said, they are photogenic but there is this problem with treating animals as a less than sentient beings. Personally, I am with the objectors. It is not so much that the animals are harmed because they are not. It is the fact that doing this supports and promotes an incorrect relationship between human and animals.

The PETA motto comes to mind immediately: “Animals are not ours to experiment on, eat, wear, use for entertainment, or abuse in any other way.”

That sums up the problem nicely too. I subscribe to PETA’s motto.

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