With birds of prey, reptiles and donkey rides expected in Stevenage town square tomorrow, animal rights protesters are gearing up for another day of activism.

On Saturday, 27 July, Stevenage Borough Council are hosting 'Animal Crackers,' a free annual event which claims to "bring the zoo" to Stevenage.

There will be reptiles, a petting zoo and birds of prey on show and face painting and donkey rides available for the public.

The council has described the event as having "something for everyone".

But, Hertfordshire Animal Rights - an online activist group which operates across the county - have complained to the borough council that this event is unacceptable.

In a letter asking SBC to cancel the event, the group said they were saddened and shocked to see it would be taking place in the town centre.

Olivia Green, an organiser from the group, described the entertainment on display as both "cruel and unfair" and insisted that there must be other ways to entertain young people.

She said: "It's so outdated, particularly the donkey rides which are outrageously cruel.

"Bringing the animals into this environment is so unfair, it will cause them a lot of stress, and the weather is still looking too hot for them.

"This is a local issue, and we want to make a stand."

In response to these complaints, SBC have said that they are monitoring the situation and will ensure the safety and welfare of the animals is their priority.

Councillor Richard Henry, executive member for children, young people and leisure, said: "The weather is expected to cool down at the weekend.

"However, if animal handlers believe the weather to be too warm on the day, some exhibitions may be cancelled.

"The safety and reducing stress levels of these animals is our priority.

"Many of the exhibitors are charities set up to support animal welfare and use the proceeds from events like these to care for animals in need.

"For example, the Birds of Prey exhibit is organised by the Raptor foundation which focuses on rehabilitating and returning injured birds of prey back to the wild."

The event will take place in the town centre from 10am to 4pm.