A donkey in Spain has died after being “squashed” by an obese man.

The Donkey Sanctuary told H&H it is investigating after the incident in Lucena, Andalusia.

The donkey was taking part in a nativity scene and was in a pen in the town.

The man reportedly climbed into the animal’s pen on 10 December to pose for a photo with the donkey.

The donkey was thought to be only five months old and was not meant to be ridden in its role in the Christmas nativity scene, which was situated outside the City Hall.

However, the 150kilo man clambered into the fenced off area and made the donkey pose in a “galloping” position. The photo then was circulated on social media and caused general outcry.

The donkey, called Platero, was put down two days after the incident.

The police were alerted to the donkey after local people reported that the animal could barely stand.

A vet was called and the donkey was examined to find the extent of his injuries. He was transferred immediately to a specialist clinic for treatment.

An investigation has now been launched after two welfare groups — the Asociacion de Defense del Borrico and the Circulo Animalista de Podemos Lucene — made formal complaints to the police.

According to local press the city council has ordered a vet report to be undertaken to determine the cause of death. If it is found the donkey died to injuries caused by the man, legal action will be taken against him.

“The Donkey Sanctuary was deeply saddened to hear of the tragic death of this poor donkey,” a spokesman told H&H.

“Our Spanish Sanctuary, El Refugio del Burrito, is currently investigating the case to establish the facts as there are a number of sources of information to contact but will be on hand to offer support and advice.”

Activists in the town have now called for the use of live animals to be banned in nativity scenes.