updated 12/25/2009 5:45:06 AM ET 2009-12-25T10:45:06

A living nativity scene in near the Colorado ski resort of Vail almost had to go without two crucial actors when two donkeys escaped.

The nativity scene is an annual tradition for Eagle River Presbyterian Church in the Vail Valley. Pastor Rob Wilson says two borrowed donkeys were being held in a fenced-in pen for the event Wednesday night, but the animals pushed their way through it, the Vail Daily reports.

A church member who stopped by the church Wednesday morning noticed the donkeys were gone. He and a sheriff's deputy followed footprints in the snow and eventually caught up with them.

The donkeys had wandered near some railroad tracks but were OK.

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