A church has been accused of "Victorian-style exploitation" by animal rights activists for using a pair of live donkeys in its nativity scene.
More than 1,000 people have signed a petition demanding Tabernacle Baptist Church in Cardiff stop using the donkeys, Kim and Robin, who have featured in the Christmas celebrations for the last six years.
Headed by activist Peter Carroll, campaigners said the donkeys were kept in cruel conditions.
"This is totally anachronistic Victorian-style animal exploitation for tawdry and vulgar advertising of the worst kind," said Carroll.
"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 and without unnecessary stress."
But Rev Denzil John, who has led Tabernacle Baptist Church for the past 25 years, said the claims were inaccurate and the donkeys were well cared for.
"They are never on their own with their carers invariably with them in the enclosure," he said.
"As a church, we support animal rights and would do nothing that might cause distress to any animal in any circumstances."
The church's donkey-keeper Sally Humble-Jackson said: "The donkeys are never left alone – that is our cardinal rule.
"They have a very generous amount of space, about 10ft by 12ft – there is a shelter at the back and a pen at the front so they can move about freely.
"If they want to move away from the public, they can go into the shelter where they can't be accessed by the public.
"But they voluntarily come to the front, they absolutely love the children.
"Donkeys are kind of like dogs, in that they enjoy human company."