A music festival has been accused of animal cruelty after dyeing sheep pink.
Latitude shared a video of the fuchsia flock on Twitter, along with the caption: “The sheep have arrived!”
But animal lovers have accused those organising the Suffolk festival of abuse – with almost 2,000 people signing a petition calling for the yearly stunt to end.
Animal rights organisation PETA UK said: “In 2019, only ignorant or cruel people still use animals as living toys, props, and photo ops. We’ve learned enough about animals to know to respect and admire them for their ability to live in a world we’re fast destroying.”
Meanwhile, the RSPCA said: “This is very sad to see. We’re a charity with no more powers than any member of public, and unfortunately this is not illegal.
“We want all animals treated with kindness and respect and would discourage people from painting animals for novelty purposes.”
Twitter users have described the stunt as unacceptable, inhumane, unethical and disgraceful.
One wrote: “Animals are not here for our entertainment and dying them pink for your dodgy festival is gross. Why are there sheep at a festival anyway? The volume will surely be distressing for them?”
Some frequent festival attendees were more dismissive, with one commenting: “The pink sheep have been going at Latitude for many many years and now all of the sudden it’s an outrage.”
Latitude organisers later sought to assure its followers that the sheep are well cared for, and said: “They’re 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.”
East Suffolk Council also told Sky News it “has no concerns about the sheep this year, or in the 14 years that this activity has taken place”.
A statement added: “We are entirely happy that the water-based dye is completely safe and that the festival organisers have taken all appropriate steps to ensure the animals are content, safe and well-looked after.
“As part of our wide-ranging licensing and environmental health responsibilities, the council takes the welfare of all animals very seriously and if we had encountered any issues or felt that the sheep were suffering distress of any kind we would not permit such an activity.”
The council also clarified that the sheep have plenty of shade and water, and are kept in an enclosure which the public do not have access to. Farmers carry out daily checks on the animals while they are on site.
Latitude had to temporarily close some of its stages due to stormy weather on Saturday evening, primarily because of fears of lightning strikes.
This year’s festival included George Ezra, Stereophonics and Lana Del Ray as headline acts.