Animal circus will not return

Animal circus will not return


By Megan Reynolds

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Ringmaster Martin Lacey nose to nose with a lion in his circus 

WILD animals performing in the Great British Circus will not return to Chingford Plain this year.


The travelling show – which boasts the largest collection of wild animals currently touring Britain – has visited Epping Forest every autumn for the last five years, attracting determined animal-rights campaigners and a declining audience.


But The City of London’s Epping Forest and commons committee decided to block the show last week by giving an exclusive licence to the all-human Billy Smarts Circus to perform at Chingford Plain and Wanstead Flats from 2008, and inviting the equestrian theatre show The Spirit of the Horse to visit this autumn.


The Great British Circus is one of only three animal circuses still operating in the UK and the only one which features big cats. Lions, tigers, zebras, camels, and llamas are some of the animals starring in the show under the direction of ringmaster Martin Lacey and his team.


Animal rights campaigners following the circus visited Chingford Plain to distribute leaflets deterring visitors from attending.


The RSPCA is opposed to exhibitions of all animals in circuses, and the London boroughs of Redbridge and Waltham Forest do not allow animal circuses on borough land, but the local authorities do not have control over shows on private land within the borough.


advertisementThe Great British Circus was therefore able to visit Chingford Plain, as the land is owned by the City of London, and private land in Forest Road, Barkingside, where a show was staged last May.


The Epping Forest and commons committee has allowed circuses with animal acts providing the proprietors had not been convicted of any breeches of animal welfare legislation.


However, they were forced to reconsider their position when they could not ignore the protests and letters from animal rights campaigners.


4:42pm Wednesday 21st March 2007  You can leave your comments online.



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