Protest at circus over use of wild animals
PROTESTERS from a Tonbridge animal welfare group are urging the public to boycott a circus that arrived in town this week.
The Great British Circus – one of the last in the country to include wild animals such as tigers, zebra and camels – arrived at Mabledon Farm near Southborough on Tuesday.
Campaigners from Tonbridge-based Animal Aid have been picketing near the big top in London Road, urging the public to boycott the show.
Animal Aid's head of education, Mark White, said the animal circus was "outdated".
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He told the Courier: "It's totally demeaning and depressing watching these proud and majestic animals perform parlour tricks.
"How can they justify using animals like tigers? It's not entertaining, it's not educational.
"The way they have to confine the animals is totally unsuitable and then they're being dragged around the country in wagons. It's outdated, it belongs in the past."
In March the Government announced a ban on use of wild animals in circuses could be in place before the next general election in 2015.
The 20-strong group of protestors will be demonstrating until the last show on Sunday, which also includes llamas, reindeer, donkeys and Fresian horses.
Mr White said: "We'll be there every day to try and persuade people not to go in. We've had lots of support from people driving past hooting and waving.
"It was youngsters who came in to our offices to say the circus was in town. They started to get the ball rolling, which was great."
However, on the opening night the show didn't go ahead.
Mr White said: "People are just not interested in animal circuses anymore. The fact the show didn't happen illustrated that."
Circus owner Martin Lacey said: "When I see them protesting year after a year, it makes us more determined to carry on.
"We will not be bullied by these societies. If for a moment I thought I was doing something wrong or cruel I wouldn't do it.
"We're inspected regularly and follow the regulations.
"People are not losing interest, we are in the middle of a recession, all entertainment businesses are down."