A protest is planned against a travelling circus which starts its run of shows over the school half-term holidays in Weston tomorrow.
At least 20 campaigners from the Lincoln Animal Rights group are due to stage a “peaceful” protest near Baytree Garden Centre where Circus Mondao are putting on 13 shows over ten days until February 19.
The protest is against the circus’ use of wild animals in its shows, including Shetland ponies, horses, llamas and a camel.
Karina Spencer, a Lincoln Animal Rights group member based in Pinchbeck, said: “We don’t want to see any animals in any circuses and they should be as free as possible.
“In the 21st century, you’ve got so many circuses around that have humans performing and they carry on very well without the animals.
“So we’ve planned the protest for Saturday afternoon at 1pm and we should have about 20 protesters there.
We’re just trying to inform everybody, especially children, that animals aren’t entertainment but living beings that deserve respectKarina Spencer, Lincoln Animal Rights
“We’re a peaceful group and we’re not here to cause any trouble.
“But we’re just trying to inform everybody, especially children, that animals aren’t entertainment but living beings that deserve respect.
“We’ve got no problems with Circus Mondao being here – just the use of animals.”
It will be Circus Mondao’s tenth visit to South Holland, the last nine of which have taken place near Baytree’s Weston site.
Circus owner Petra Jackson said: “There’s a small minority of people who don’t agree with what we do which is alright because we’re in a diverse world.
“But it’s unfair for people to force their views on others and stop people from doing something that’s legal.
“We’re doing everything correctly, we’re government-licenced and registered, our animal husbandry is up to government conditions and we’ve even been complimented on how wonderful our animals are looked after.
“Yet we get these people harassing us and trying to force people not to come and see the circus.”
The protest will be the second in the area inside three weeks after a group called Spalding Animal Save demonstrated outside the town’s Dalehead Foods site over the deaths of 23 pigs in a crash on the A16 near Cowbit last month.
Jan Creamer, President of Animal Defenders International, said: “Circuses simply cannot meet the needs of wild animals in mobile accommodation and we ask people not to go to a circus with animals.”
The Animal Welfare Act 2006 makes it a criminal offence for any person responsible for an animal not to provide for its welfare.
This is defined as an animal’s need for “a suitable environment, diet, to exhibit normal behaviour patterns, to be housed with, or apart from, other animals and to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease”.
But pressure from the RSPCA and animal rights groups led the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Coalition Government to introduce a licensing scheme for wild animals in circuses across England in May 2011.
A written statement from the Coalition Government at the time said: “Any circuses in England that wish to have wild animals, such as tigers, lions and elephants, performing in them will need to demonstrate that they meet high animal welfare standards for each animal before they can be granted a licence to keep those animals.”
Licensing conditions include the method and length of time over which animals are transported, the type of “quarters” provided for their keeping and how trainers and performers treat them.