Furious animal rights activists to protest Chingford Nativity Procession that includes camel

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Animal rights activists have vowed to protest a London nativity play because the Magi will be riding a camel and Mary a donkey.

Hundreds of “distressed” campaigners have called for Chingford’s Nativity Procession to be banned.

Abdul the camel and his equine friend Pedro both took part in the 45 minute procession from Chingford Station last Christmas, and a donkey has been part of the festivities for the past five years.

But this year more than 400 people have signed a petition addressed to local MP Iain Duncan Smith calling for him to step in and stop the event using live animals.

Nick Gibb, who helped organise the Nativity run by the True Life Baptist Church, insisted it is not cruel.

He said: "It is about a 45 minute walk and the people riding the animals have to be a certain weight. The animals are chosen specially and they from are a very caring [sanctuary].

“People really enjoy the event and it is all about the real the meaning of Christmas and bringing that to the community.

“"I think [the activists] are very sincere, we all love animals as well.

“But the handlers are really reputable firms and these were the animals in the nativity story."

The nativity event sees actors gather at Chingford Station at 10am on Saturday before making their way to Chingford for a carol service when the animals are taken home.

Anti-hunting and vegan groups have vowed to protest the procession.

Animal activist group South London Hunt Sabs ​said: "[The protest] will be low key because our priority will be to ensure the animals don’t get any more stressed than they already will be.

"There will be some activists there but also a number of ordinary citizens that quite rightly find the practice barbaric.

"I understand the church are wanting to celebrate Christmas but this is upsetting so many people and is incongruent with the message of peace and kindness that they purport to promote.

“I had a lot of very distressed messages over night hence the campaign."

A Waltham Forest council spokesman said the authority had seen social media posts about plans to protest the event and made the Metropolitan Police aware.

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