Activists are bidding to end the great British seaside tradition of children’s donkey rides.
They have launched a petition calling for the rides at Clevedon in Somerset to stopped – scrapping a 130-year-old tradition.
It calls on the local council to ban the rides on Salthouse Fields, a public park on the seafront, because they are cruel to donkeys in hot weather.
But of the 110,439 signatures only 18,407 of come from the UK.
Now donkey ride organisers have said they will fight the campaign.
And North Somerset Council said it has always made the welfare of the donkeys a priority.
Matt Taylor, who has been running donkey rides at Clevedon for more than 20 years, insisted his animals were treated well.
He said he is licensed by North Somerset Council and has to meet strict criteria to operate the rides.
Mr Taylor owns 12 donkeys and uses eight for rides while the other four are retired.
“We tend to use three or four donkeys each day for the rides at Clevedon,” he said.
“Different donkeys work on different days. We don’t operate on sand, purely on the grass at Salthouse Fields.
“Donkey rides are very much a British tradition and the seaside donkeys are loved by millions of people.
“We never use a bit on the donkeys. If they didn’t want to do it they wouldn’t.”
Nick Yates of North Somerset Council added:’ “We licence this activity.
“The welfare of the animals is, of course, extremely important – the donkeys are checked by a vet and are subject to regular visits by the RSPCA.”
The donkeys are rested at a field during the winter, and visitors and villagers often stop to feed and stroke them.
Donkey rides have been running in Clevedon’s Salthouse Fields for many decades and in neighbouring Weston-super-Mare since 1886.
The petition was set up by a woman known on as ‘Kirsty D’ who visited Clevedon, Somerset, on a hot day.
Supporters of the petition say the animals endure unnecessary suffering as they are forced to walk up and down seafronts carrying children in hot weather with no rest.