A picture of a reindeer with his ribs visible through his skin has sparked outrage among animal lovers.
The reindeer, which belongs to The Reindeer Centre at Capralama Farm in Kent, appeared as Rudolf at a festive fair outside The Swallows leisure centre on Sunday.
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Images of the "skeletal" animal posted online prompted a huge backlash against the company that owns it.
One woman on social media wrote: "This reindeer is clearly very underweight.
"Age may be a factor but this poor animal is clearly not in a fit state to be used in such a way.
She added: "Shame people feel the need to use animals to gawp at but the Council should have intervened in this case."
Another posted: "That reindeer is NOT healthy! You don't need to be a vet to see that."
Swallow's leisure centre responded to the criticisms claiming the reindeer's health was "paramount".
In a statement posted on Facebook they said: "Following concerns that some customers had regarding the weight of one of the reindeer at the recent Swallows Leisure Centre Christmas Fayre, we would like to stress that the care of the animals was paramount in our consideration for including them within our festive event.
"We booked through a company called the Reindeer Centre and before proceeding all appropriate documentation was sought, including a certificate of registration for performing animals and full animal welfare statements."
In a separate post, The Swallows leisure centre outlined a reply from the reindeer's owners, who assured concerned people that the animals were fed straw and water throughout the event.
The Reindeer Centre added: "That would indicate that the reindeer is in good condition".
Some animal-lovers were not convinced, with one writing on Facebook: "Having seen that picture of a painfully thin reindeer I think you and the Reindeer Centre should be ashamed of yourselves.
"The poor thing was skeletal, no matter what the centre claims."
But others were more supportive of the company following their assurances that the reindeer was healthy enough to appear at the festive fair.
One grandmother, who attended the Christmas event with her two-year-old grandaughter, said: "What a great experience she had.
"She absolutely adored stroking the reindeer, fed them carrot and we had a lovely chat with the man in the pen.
"He was very passionate about his livestock.
"I think we need to remember that some of us are, should we say large & some of us are small."
Over 1,500 people attended the event, which was also held to help promote local business.
The event also raised £200 for Help for Heroes.