A call to ban animal circuses from land owned by Brighton and Hove City Council failed in a narrow vote on Thursday(January 31).
A petition signed by more than 5,600 people was presented to a meeting of the full council calling for Zippos Circus to not be allowed to return with animal performers.
The petition presented by Piotr Glodowski and Victoria Wood said that performances involved domestic animals, including horses and budgies, carrying out unnatural tasks.
The Green Party called for a report reviewing the council’s animal welfare charter to bring in a ban.
At Brighton Town Hall, Green convenor Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty reminded councillors that they had unanimously voted to discuss banning animal circuses before.
He said: “They are asking us to consign all animal circuses to history because it is completely unacceptable the council has not changed policy.
“It can’t just be another petition that falls by the wayside.
“We have of course powers afforded to us in how we use our land and who we allow to have events in the city.”
He said that Zippos was bringing a human-only circus to Hove seafront this year which he said proved that the use of animals was not necessary.
Labour councillor Alan Robins, who chairs the council’s tourism, development and culture committee, said that as a vegetarian for more than 30 years he found it hard to defend something he disagreed with.
He said: “We all have our own moral compass and I know people feel strongly about this and others do not feel so strongly.
“I would be happy to have no more horses in circuses, never to see another horse race and happy to see the dog racing go. But we have to act according to the law.
“At the present time we cannot ban this. It’s legal.”
Councillor Robins said he welcomed bringing the petition to the committee.
Opposition Conservative leader Councillor Tony Janio said that his fellow Tories had a free vote on the issue and added that animals had not been put upon the earth for our entertainment.
The proposed ban failed to attract enough support but councillors unanimously agreed to send the petition to the next meeting of the tourism, development and culture committee on Thursday, March 7.