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Circus animals prompt outcry


An animal rights group is urging people in Newark to boycott a circus that features tigers and lions.

The Great British Circus, one of only a few in the country that still uses animals, is due to hold shows at Newark Showground, starting a week tomorrow, until March 2.

The Lincoln-based circus, which describes itself as Britain’s biggest animal circus, also features zebras.

But the Captive Animals’ ProtectionSociety, this week called for the boycott, with its campaigns assistant, Mr Paul Thomas, saying circuses were no life for animals.

The group is urging people to write to their MP, in a bid to encourage the government to ban the use of animals in circuses.

Mr Thomas said: “These are large predators, designed to hunt, but their natural instincts and behaviours are frustrated by the circus.

“By their very nature, circuses cannot provide the space and stimulation that animals need.”

The regional press officer for the RSPCA, Miss Sophie Wilkinson, urged people to see shows without animals.

“We don’t agree with the use of wild animals in circuses,” she said.

“Because they are moved about all the time they cannot be given the right sort of life and be given adequate living conditions. Their needs cannot be met.”

The ringmaster, Mr Martin Lacey, rubbished the claims from the society.

Mr Lacey said, after about two years of research, a Defra report published in October concluded there was no scientific evidence to demonstrate that travelling circuses were not compatible with meeting the welfare needs of non-domestic animals presently being used in the UK.

Mr Lacey, who has more than 40 years’ experience keeping, training and breeding animals, said: “These people are just making themselves look very foolish.”

Mr Lacey said the animals were content.

The chief executive of Newark and Nottinghamshire Agricultural Society, Mr Adrian Johnston, said they were reassured that the animals were not treated cruelly and they had no reason to believe there was any wrong-doing.

Mr Johnston said they received one complaint from an individual.

He said they had contacted the district council to make them aware of this and gave permission for an animal health inspector to visit the site if they wished.

Mr Johnston said they believed there was no basis for the complaints.

“I believe it is scaremongering rather than concrete grounds for an actual objection,” he said.

Posters for the circus have been plastered throughout the town, including on derelict buildings and bus stops.

Mr Lacey said an advance team visited businesses with the posters but it was not his instructions to put them up on derelict buildings or bus stops.

He said the poor weather would probably blow down the posters and the team putting them up probably had permission from the owners of the empty buildings.

The district council’s planning services manager, Mr Peter Wilkinson, said that under the control of advertisement regulations, brought in last year, travelling circuses could put up these posters within a certain time frame.

He said they could display posters within 14 days of the start of the circus and then had to take them down seven days after the shows finished.

Mr Wilkinson said the circus would still need permission from property owners but anyone who did not want them on their buildings would probably just take them down.

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