The RSPCA has backed the University of Canberra's decision to stop hiring a petting zoo several times a year - a former tradition aimed at helping students destress ahead of exams.
The university said it would no longer bring in Uriarra petting zoo Noah's Ark Farm Friends for Stress Less Week after receiving an email from PETA Australia arguing such businesses "contribute to a cruel cycle of breeding, abandonment, and killing".
"Although the university doesn't share all of PETA's concerns, it recognised that some of their points are valid," a spokeswoman said.
On Wednesday, RSPCA ACT communications officer Jacqueline Bunt said the organisation supported the University of Canberra's call.
"We get regular requests to attend events and have frequently been asked by universities to be part of their 'stress relief' efforts for students," she said.
"While we understand that there are potential benefits to having students interact with animals during stressful times of the year, we always turn it down.
"It can be quite distressing for animals to be touched, handled and loomed over by many people at once."
But the University of Canberra's decision came as a shock to Noah's Ark owners Cathy and Matt Rogers, who said their hand-reared animals were healthy, happy and loved.
The pair started the business to give Canberra children the chance to interact with and learn about farm animals. Animals who were no longer shown in the mobile zoo were returned to their flock or rehomed as pets, Ms Rogers said.
"No one has come to me with any complaints or spoken to me negatively about any of their health issues or and how my animals are actually looking in real life," Ms Rogers said.
"I know I love them, I know I look after them well and that shows.
"We won't let a group like PETA dictate to us what we can and cannot do, because it's not going to happen."
Australian National University Student Association president Eleanor Kay said the group was looking at alternatives to petting zoos for its Less Stresstival events, including greyhound rescue play dates.