Former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi's adoption of five lambs destined for slaughter at Easter has been slammed by Italy's meat industry.
A video by the Italian League in Defence of Animals and the Environment, showing Berlusconi cuddling, kissing and feeding the lambs with a baby's bottle, hit social media at the weekend.
The 80-year-old four-time prime minister was filmed at his estate in front of a sign saying "Defend life, choose a vegetarian Easter", while a message urged viewers to "Be like him. He saved five lambs from the Easter slaughter."
Italians traditionally eat lamb or goat on Easter Sunday but consumption has declined sharply during the past five years due to an economic slump and growing success of vegetarian campaigns.
Italy's butchers' lobby group, Assocarni attacked the billionaire media tycoon and called on advertisers to boycott his television channels and publications.
"It's incredible that even though he is a business person he is contributing to damaging the meat industry to try to get the votes of animal lovers," it said in a statement.
Several newspapers reported in 2016 that he had become a vegetarian but he neither confirmed nor denied the reports.