In November 2015 I became aware of a number of products on sale by Lakeland which show wild animals in a circus setting, I didn't feel this was appropriate and decided to start a petition - I thought this would be a good way to see if there were other people out there who felt the same way as me.
In just 23 days, the petition had over 1,500 signatures from people all over the world! This told me that people did think this was important and I believed Lakeland would want to know this. I have been a Lakeland customer for many years and assumed they would share similar values to me as a customer.
I sent an email to Lakeland on the 5th of December 2015 with the details of the petition and some explanation of why the petition was started.
The following is the content of the email I sent to Lakeland:
Dear Wendy Miranda
I am writing to you on behalf of over 1,500 people who have signed a petition on Care2.com, the petition was created to send a message to Lakeland requesting that you do not continue to sell circus animal themed products. You currently have four products depicting performing animals, available for purchase, namely:
On the face of it, these are harmless and amusing products depicting well-loved animals. The unfortunate side to this is that circus animals are often kept in isolation, poorly treated (and often abused for training) and forced to perform unnatural and degrading acts for the entertainment of people.
Many countries around the world have banned the use of wild animals in circuses (Austria, Cyprus, Greece, Mexico to name a few) and there have been discussions about a UK ban over the past few years – with the vast majority of the public against the use of wild animals in the circus (https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/228862/8538.pdf).
The products you are selling are playing a small part in normalising the use of animals for entertainment – even though it is just a small part, it is one that can easily be stopped, simply by no longer selling these products and by making a commitment not to stock circus animal themed products in the future.
The signatures that have been collected for this petition have been received within the last 23 days and they are still coming. I am aware Christmas is approaching and expect this will be a busy time for you but, in 28 days (2 January 2016) I will be updating the petition and would like to be able to post a comment from Lakeland about the future of these (and any other circus-themed) products.
I also selected a few comments made by some of the people who took the time to sign the petition and included these in my email:
Please don't encourage young minds to believe that its natural to have wild animals preforming in a Circus! It's not, it's ethically wrong! - Bernadette Harrow, United Kingdom
Please don't sell items that promote the use of animals in the circus. The life of a circus animal is anything but fun, cute or enchanting. - Cecelia Samp, Illinois USA
As a regular customer, I'm appalled that you have included items portraying cruelty to animals. You have lost my custom until these products are withdrawn. – Jenny Shaw, United Kingdom
Animal cruelty for entertainment has no place in the 21st century, and selling items that promote it is in poor taste. Please consider replacing "circus animal" themed products with "wild animal" themed products instead. You could still sell products which depict elephants or other animals, but do not depict them performing painful circus stunts and do not include them in circus themed sets. – Tara B, Michigan USA
I have been a regular customer for years, but will not shop with you again until you withdraw these items from sale. Perpetuating the idea that forcing animals to perform is acceptable is totally irresponsible and shocking. - Lesley Moghaddassi, United Kingdom
Please take the animal cookie cutters cake molds of animals off the market. These animals are notoriously abused and making more money off their suffering is wrong. - Susan Kohn, Pennsylvania USA
It is NOT normal to have performing animals! This concept must not be encouraged by Lakeland! - Joan Jordan, United Kingdom
I won't buy anything else from there until they remove them!!! - Joan Melling, United Kingdom
If everyone could see how these circus animals are treated, they'd not endorse erroneous depictions showing the 'fun side' of circus life. The unknowing spectators would be mortified if they knew!! I encourage Lakeland and other corporations to look into such treatment, for if they became educated, their views would surely change. IF they have a conscience!! - Amy Thompson, Minnesota USA
Please show some thought about the message that your products send out. Children are impressionable, and while a trip to the circus can mean enjoying clowns & acrobats, it should not include animals who are kept in tiny enclosures, forced to perform and endure regular transportation. This is a horrible way for an animal to be made to live, so please think about what your products are portraying. The circus needs to evolve so that all it's participants are there of their own free will. At the moment this is not the case in all circuses, and your cookie cutters are representing the old standard that needs to change. - Sharon Thompson, United Kingdom
Oh dear Lakeland. As a regular customer I am very disappointed that you think this is acceptable. Please think again. It is not. - Louise Woollard, United Kingdom
On the 7th of December, I received an email from Lakeland's customer services stating that my email had been passed on. As of today (12 January 2016) I have heard nothing more from Lakeland. The products are still available on Lakeland's website and in at least one highstreet store (my local one) so I can only take this as a sign that they don't care about the opinion of the 1,500 people who signed the petition.
I can't speak for the other people who signed the petition but I have now decided that I will join other customers who stated that they will no longer shop at Lakeland until the products have been removed. I am actually going further than this as I will no longer shop at Lakeland until such time as these products have been removed from sale and Lakeland commit not to stock similar products (i.e. any showing captive wild animals being used for entertainment) in the future.
If you are a Lakeland customer and share a concern for wild animals, I recommend that you contact Lakeland directly to see what they have to say about it. I'd really like to hear if you get anything more than a standard response that your question "has been passed on". I personally do not believe my question, or details of the petition, were passed on and am now left thinking that Lakeland doesn't care what its customers think as long as they are buying products from them - I am no longer one of those customers.
A copy of the signatures and the full petition letter can be viewed here.