Circus defends its treatment of animals ahead of Stevenage visit

Zippos Circus uses acrobatic cats as part of its act.

Zippos Circus uses acrobatic cats as part of its act. - Credit: Copyright Piet-Hein Out

Zippos Circus has hit back at claims made by an animal rights group which has called for it to be banned from Stevenage.

The circus is due to set up its big top in Fairlands Valley Park from next Friday, June 3 for a three-day visit and is one of the few left that still uses domestic animals - including budgies, horses and ‘acrobatic’ cats.

Hertfordshire Animal Rights has written to Stevenage Borough Council demanding the circus does not come to town, because it does not provide for the ‘physical and psychological’ needs of animals.

But the circus has posted a report on its website made by Oxfordshire-based veterinary surgeon Stephen Ware, who visited the circus at South Park, Oxford, last month.

His report states the horses have adequate access to food and water and are kept in paddock areas where they can exercise freely. It also says the horses travel in well-ventilated wagons which he deems adequate in all respects, and states: “In my opinion the horses and ponies appeared to be in good health and fit to be transported or to appear in performances at the circus.”

Cats, dogs and budgies were also healthy and being treated well and he was satisfied the animals are ‘handled sympathetically’ at all times.

Circus spokesman Chris Barltrop also defended the outfit’s reputation.

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He said: “The animal rights groups do piggy back on the popularity of the circus industry to draw attention to themselves.

“Zippos grew up for 15 years without using animals and only started to use horses in response to public demand.

“We are very very careful to have high standards of practice and we always put the animals first.

“You can see how happy and contented the animals are and we are constantly told this by members of the public.”

He invited anyone who is interested to an ‘open house’ event at the circus next Friday between 11am to 12 noon to have a look at the animals for themselves.

Tickets for the circus are available from www.zippos.co.uk or at the ticket office in Fairlands Valley Park from next Thursday, June 2.

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