ANIMAL rights campaigners are urging people to boycott a circus which has set up in Southall.

The Captive Animal Protection Society is telling people to vote with their feet and stay away from Zippos Circus in Southall Park, because it uses performing ponies, horses and budgies in the show.

Craig Redmond, a campaigner for the group, said: “We are opposed to the use of all animals in circuses, regardless of species.

“All of the animals are subjected to a certain amount of training and these circuses spend up to nine months a year on the road.

“What we want is for the public not to go to the circus and tell them the reason is because they use animals. Zippos is one of just six circuses in the UK using animals – and there are 20 which do not.

“There are enough high quality acts which use only people like acrobats in their shows, like the Chinese State Circus, which provide high quality entertainment.”

Animals currently performing in the circus are palomino horses, a budgie show and a dog.

However, Chris Barltrop, a spokesman for Zippos, which opens in Southall tonight, said the circus actually only introduced animals in 1996 after consultation with audiences.

He said: “When we decided to introduce animals to the show we went to the top authorities to adapt the code of practice for keeping animals for circuses. We even consulted on how large the boxes should be for them.

“We purposely put the horse boxes near the entrance of the big top so as people come in they can see the horses and how well they are kept. We try to be transparent in all we do with our animals.

“At the end of the day if you have a dog and kick it, it’s not likely to do what you want, but if you treat it well and make it your mate it will do what you want.

“If people have genuine concerns about the treatment of animals I would urge them to come and see for themselves how they are kept, rather than rely on these groups which are motivated by politics or finances.”

Mr Barltrop also said the horses travel for much shorter distances and time than horses used for eventing and horse racing.

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