UNITED KINGDOM -- More than 1,000 people have demanded a church nativity stops using real donkeys, claiming it is cruel.
They have signed a petition, saying the festive event is “unnecessary exploitation”.
Donkeys Kim and Robin have been included in celebrations outside Tabernacle Baptist Church in Cardiff for six years.
But animal welfare campaigner Peter Carroll said: “This is totally anachronistic animal exploitation for tawdry and vulgar advertising of the worst kind.
“These donkeys are exposed to the busy city Christmas rush in a tiny stall, with many people constantly touching them.
“This is nothing like their proper habitat where they can be comfortable without unnecessary stress.”
Rev Denzil John insists the donkeys are well cared for, warm and have ample space.
He said: “Each year 5,000 people have valued the drama and far more have been pleased to see the donkeys.”
Rev John, minister at the church for 25 years, said: “The wording of the petition is inaccurate and unfortunate in that the two donkeys are well cared for, warm and fed with ample space.
“They are never on their own with their carers invariably with them in the enclosure.
“Children are encouraged to touch the donkeys under supervision, and both animals appear to enjoy the attention that they receive.
“As a church, we support animal rights and would do nothing that might cause distress to any animal in any circumstances.”
Donkey keeper Sally Humble-Jackson said: “The donkeys are never left alone, that is our rule.
“They have a very generous amount of space and can go into the shelter where they can’t be accessed by the public.
“But they voluntarily come to the front. They enjoy human interaction.”
(The Sun UK - Dec 13, 2016)