Circus rolls up to Havering with protesters in tow

For most people the word circus is associated with a nostalgic imagery that is evocative of rosy-cheeked ringmasters, childhood fun and magical trips into a different world.

But this weekend protesters are hoping to burst that bubble as they gear up to stage a demonstration outside the Great British Cricus’ (GBC) current site just off of the junction of Eastern Avenue and Whalebone Lane North.

Activist Nicola Olckers, 33, from Buckhurst Hill, will be joining other campaigners from animal welfare group Captive Animals’ Protection Society on Saturday to fight for an end to the use of animals in circuses.

She insists the group is not specifically targeting GBC for any other reason than proximity and that their aim is to ban the use of animals for entertainment altogether.

She said: “You get tigers jumping through hoops and being kept in cages, pacing up and down.

“That’s not natural behaviour for any animal.

“The reason animals comply and perform is fear – it’s the cruel training. I’m not saying every circus worker abuses the animals but there’s a lot of abuse going on.

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“It’s heartbreaking. The only time they are allowed out of their cages is when they have to jump through hoops.

“It’s got to be banned.”

The circus has tigers, camels, horses, llamas, ponies and other animals.

A spokesman for the Great British Circus said: “This whole question of animals in circus has taken on the guise of a witchhunt.

“The fact remains that in other countries there is a totally different approach to the subject.

“Circuses are governed by criteria laid down by legislation.

“Any circus not meeting that criteria is dealt with individually but the industry as a whole is not punished.”

The company’s website adds: “We have purpose-built, state of the art travelling accommodation and ensure all our livestock is gently and patiently trained using positive reinforcement.”

Earlier this year Romford MP Andrew Rosindell was the only MP to speak out against a ban on circuses using wild animals in a debate in Parliament.