'Stay away' plea to locals as campaigners protest against wild animal circus in Doncaster

Peter Jolly's Circus, which is coming to Harworth.
Peter Jolly's Circus, which is coming to Harworth.

Campaigners against animal cruelty are urging locals to stay away from one of the country's last remaining animal circuses when it arrives in Doncaster later this week.

Peter Jolly's Circus - which uses performing animals - comes to Harworth from Thursday until Sunday.

But campaigners opposed to the circus are calling on local people to boycott the big top and said: "Stop the suffering - don't go to a circus with animals."

Animal Defenders International has issued the plea against the circus, one of two in the UK which still feature wild animal acts, something the group says is "an outdated practice which is overwhelmingly opposed by the public and animal experts."

Jan Creamer, president of ADl, said: “Animal Defenders International has repeatedly documented the suffering and abuse of animals in circuses. Circuses simply cannot meet the needs of animals in small, mobile accommodation.

"Given the constant travel and their temporary nature, circuses cannot provide animals with adequate facilities to keep them physically or psychologically healthy. Welfare is always compromised."

She said that expert analysis of scientific evidence commissioned by the Welsh Government and undertaken by Professor Stephen Harris at Bristol University last year concluded, “The available scientific evidence indicates that captive wild animals in circuses and other travelling animal shows do not achieve their optimal welfare requirements.”

The report stated that “Life for wild animals in travelling circuses…does not appear to constitute either a ‘good life’ or a ‘life worth living’”.

The British Veterinary Association concludes that “The welfare needs of non-domesticated, wild animals cannot be met within a travelling circus - in terms of housing or being able to express normal behaviour.”

As well as vets, the continued use of wild animals in circuses is widely opposed by animal welfare experts, animal protection groups, politicians and a huge majority of the public. In response to a consultation by Defra on the issue, 94.5% of respondents supported a ban.

The circus has been met with protests across the UK, including one on a recent visit to Scunthorpe.

On that occasion, spokesman Peter Jolly Jnr defended the circus and said that all levels of animal care expected by the circus were being met.

He said that the circus has announced and unannounced inspections and that paperwork for the animals is filled in every day.

"On our website you can read about our licensing and what we do and don't do."