The Lord Mayor of London is historically entitled to the Freedom of the City, a privilege that theoretically affords him or her the right to do many things, including carrying a naked sword in public and other equally archaic practices. One of these practices is the dangerous tradition of herding sheep across London Bridge.
Since the current Lord Mayor of London, Fiona Woolf, plans to do just that in a fundraising stunt set for next week, Paul O’Grady MBE has written to ask her to put a stop to the tradition. “I am sure that you will agree that these ‘rights’ should not be exercised simply because they can be exercised”, he writes.
“Herding sheep down a very busy London street while cars continue to speed along the road next to them shows a disregard for their welfare and needlessly causes them distress. I have no doubt that you would be able to match, if not exceed, the donations that the previous Lord Mayor received by promoting an event without the use of any animals, and compassionate Londoners would thank you for it”, Paul explains in his letter.
As Paul knows from his experience in sharing his home with sheep, they are intelligent and complex individuals. They flock to keep safe from predators, and if threatened, they all run together for a short distance and then turn to face the danger as a group. Just like humans, dogs, chickens and most other animals, sheep make different sounds to communicate different emotions, and flock mates recognise each other even if they’ve been separated for years. A University of Illinois study found that sheep perform nearly as well as pigs on IQ tests and have demonstrated problem-solving abilities.
We hope the Lord Mayor will agree with Paul that sheep are not inanimate props and drop the stunt in favour of a more compassionate form of fundraising that would not cause distress to animals.