Petition seeks to ban animal circus acts

Zippos Circus (Photograph: Piet-Hein Out) SUS-170703-143221001
Zippos Circus (Photograph: Piet-Hein Out) SUS-170703-143221001

Campaigners are asking Brighton and Hove City Council not to issue licences to animal circuses performing on council land.

Retired teacher Sue Baumgardt, 71, of Stoneham Road, lodged her petition on the city council’s website and it has 131 signatures to date.

Ms Baumgardt said: “We believe that there are wonderful all-human circuses and the days of travelling animal circuses should be long gone.

“219 councils around the country have already banned all animal circuses.”

Zippos Circus is scheduled to perform on Hove Lawns in August with a show including horses, dogs and birds.

A spokesman for Zippos Circus said: “Our circus has been an annual, very popular, fixture in the city for over 20 years now, enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of families in your local community.

“Zippos Circus is committed to excellence in animal husbandry and strongly opposes any form of cruelty or mistreatment to animals.

“Our circus has featured domestic animals for 23 years and during this time we have been constantly praised for our animal husbandry – and never been charged with animal abuse or mistreatment.”

Animal circuses have been the focus of protests and boycotts for some time, with wild animal acts disappearing. Ringling Brother and Barnum & Bailey Circus will close in May after 146 years.

The petition to Brighton and Hove City Council reads: “On their last visit in September 2016 Zippos Circus used ponies, dogs, budgies and cats. This is in breach of our city’s own Animal Welfare Charter which limits performances using animals to equines only.

“Since the restrictions of a travelling and performing life are not suited to any animals we ask that Brighton and Hove City Council follow the lead of the majority of councils across the country and only allow circuses with human acts on council land.

“We would like Brighton and Hove City Council to discuss at a full council meeting, the issue of the exemption in the Animal Welfare Charter being breached.”

The RSPCA is opposed to making animals perform and does not believe animals should be subjected to the conditions of circus life, citing frequent transport, cramped and bare temporary housing, forced training and performance, and the noise and crowds.

It claims scientific research demonstrates travelling circus life is likely to have a harmful effect on animals.

Zippos’ spokesman said: “We hope that you will recognise this petition as the voice of a very small, but very vocal, minority.”

The petition runs until April 6, when it will be presented to full council.