Dozens of protesters stood on the edge of the parade, which makes its way up Queen Street Mall, holding megaphones and signs and chanting “Deer don’t belong here”.
The group was protesting Brisbane City Council’s decision to reintroduce “Santa’s Stable”, where families can take selfies with Santa’s (rein)deer.
A Brisbane Marketing spokesperson described the selfie opportunity as a “much-loved” experience.
“Families love seeing Santa’s deer and this year there will be more to see and do with the opportunity to get happy snaps as one of the highlights of the Christmas program,” a spokesperson told The Courier-Mail.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) confirmed it was not behind the protest, suggesting the activists were Brisbane locals banding together to protest the selfie stand.
Despite PETA not being behind this protest, the animal rights group did earlier issue a statement calling for Brisbane City Council to stop using live animals in festive displays.
“After talks with PETA and protests by Animal Liberation Queensland and other grassroots activists, David Jones ended the use of live animals in Brisbane’s annual Christmas parade in 2018,” PETA said.
“While the retailer showed kindness to animals by leaving them out of the parade, Brisbane City Council has continued to use “reindeer” to lure crowds, confining the deer to a small patch of plastic “grass” as part of the Santa’s Stable display at Reddacliff Place.”
PETA spokeswoman Emily Rice called for an end to Santa’s Stable.
“Christmas attractions that use live animals completely go against the merry spirit of the season,” Ms Rice said.
“Animals are living, feeling individuals, not props, and they shouldn’t be made to suffer for our entertainment.”
Gabba Ward Councillor Jonathan Sri also expressed concern over deer being used at Santa’s Stable.
“Even if you provide water and shade and regular breaks, the middle of a noisy Australian city on a hot summer’s day doesn’t seem like a very comfortable environment for deer that are adapted to European grasslands,” Councillor Sri said.
“Christmas should be about friends and family coming together, not about mindless consumerism or disrespecting and subjugating other living creatures.”