Animal rights activists, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta), have taken a swipe at Formula One star Lewis Hamilton over pictures and videos of him with canoodling with big cats posted on social media. The racing champion took the pictures while visiting a sanctuary in Mexico.

Elisa Allen, Director of Peta UK, said the tiger and jaguar in the pictures were being "used for photo ops" and posting the pictures "promotes the idea that wild animals are here for human amusement and to do with as humans please".

Allen observed Lewis could be tempting fate with his antics: "Accidents happen, as everyone in racing knows and Lewis won't win the championship this year or any other if he loses the hands he needs to turn the wheel, the fingers he needs to shift gears, or a foot that he needs to work the pedals.

"Unless big cats are kept on tranquilisers, they're quite capable of becoming annoyed with him and taking a chunk out of more than his cap."

Along with the instagram pictures – one of Hamilton with a tiger and one with a jaguar – Hamilton also posted a Snapchat video of himself with a jaguar on top of him. The racing driver was visiting a sanctuary in Mexico run by the Black Jaguar - White Tiger Foundation which rescues and cares for big cats previously abused.

Lewis Hamilton at Abu Dhabi F1
Lewis Hamilton during the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix Getty

But Allen described Hamilton's actions as "foolish" and said handling exotic creatures was more dangerous than driving with his Mercedes teammate: "Ask any victim of a tiger or lion mauling or the relatives of those who didn't survive one, and they'll assure Lewis that cuddling exotic animals is a far more foolish move than tangling with Nico Rosberg."

My absolute favourite... #NicoleBJWT @blackjaguarwhitetiger

A photo posted by Lewis Hamilton (@lewishamilton) on