Baa-baric?: Pink sheep outrage animal welfare groups

The release of the pink sheep are a tradition at the music festival.
The release of the pink sheep are a tradition at the music festival. Photo credit: Instagram/Latitude Festival

The organisers of a popular music festival in the UK are being forced to defend themselves as they face criticism over the use of pink dyed sheep.

The sheep were released on the first day of the Latitude Festival in Suffolk.

The sheep are a tradition at the festival which has been held for the past 14 years.

A video on the festival's Instagram account of the sheep sparked initial debate with some followers unhappy at what they saw.

"Wrong on every level. Animals are not entertainment tools. Sheep and lambs are timid creatures - totally inappropriate," said one person.

"Not only should sheep NOT be pink, at a noisy festival...I was at the festival, and there was not enough shade for the poor sheep," said another.

Animal rights groups are also concerned at the pink sheep, with the RSPCA and Peta speaking out.

Peta activists labelled the act as "ignorant and cruel", reported the BBC while a petition calling for change has nearly 3,000 signatures.

However, festival organisers are defending using the sheep, saying in a statement that the water-based dye was not harmful and that sheep welfare was the farmers' priority.

The RSPCA told the BBC it would be writing to Latitude organisers about the sheep.

"We want all animals treated with kindness and respect and would discourage people from painting or dying animals for novelty purposes," it said.

Meanwhile, the local East Suffolk Council issued a statement in support of the festival.

"In our animal welfare capacity, East Suffolk Council has no concerns about the sheep this year or in the 14 years that this activity has taken place," it said.

"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."