A Croydon Christmas event cancelled the appearance of reindeer after an investigation revealed they were being abused by their keepers.

Croydon BID, a business group, planned to bring live reindeer to a shopping event in the town centre on Saturday where street performers and musicians entertained the public.

But an investigation by Animal Aid found staff at Kent Reindeer Centre, the company supplying the animals, abusing the reindeer and neglecting their needs.

Leaked CCTV footage shows emaciated reindeer with raw, exposed skin being kicked and shouted at by a staff member.

Animal Aid, a group campaigning for animal welfare, has called on event organisers across the country to halt the use of live reindeer in public events.

Campaign manager Tor Bailey said: "Our investigations have revealed the shocking suffering of these gentle animals. Reindeer are sensitive semi-wild animals, not props to be paraded around and used for human entertainment.

"I would urge the general public not to support events which feature live captive animals and find other more animal-friendly ways to enjoy the festive period."

A reindeer discovered at the Kent centre

The high profile campaign has lead to 29 event organisers cancelling events across the country in places such as Swindon, Chelmsley and Guildford.

A statement released by the reindeer centre read: "The person involved was one of several new part tme staff that we took on to help out.

"He was dismissed as unsuitable after a short period of time.

"These matters were discussed in full with the RSPCA and our vet back in the summer.

"Although we were made aware that someone had illegaly placed cameras on our premises we have only just seen the full footage.

"We understand people's concerns and distress and I can only confirm we as a family care passionately about our animals."

Government figures from 2014 to 2017 show that 571 reindeer were imported from Sweden, Finland and Norway to the UK.

Campaigners say the abrupt change in climate leaves them vulnerable to disease and pathogens.

Dr John Fletcher, founder of the Veterinary Reindeer Society said: "Reindeer have adapted to live in the Arctic.

"They are not well able to cope with the stress of captivity, and most of the diseases we see here in reindeer are stress-related."