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Big top boycott call as Circus Mondao pitches up in King's Lynn

PUBLISHED: 15:43 26 February 2019 | UPDATED: 15:43 26 February 2019

Petra Jackson with a camel at Circus Mondao Picture: Ian Burt

Petra Jackson with a camel at Circus Mondao Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2018

Horses and a camel grazing by a busy roundabout can only mean one thing: The circus is back in town.

Circus Mondao has come to King's Lynn. Picture: Matthew Usher.Circus Mondao has come to King's Lynn. Picture: Matthew Usher.

And as soon as the big top has gone up at Knights Hill, overlooking King’s Lynn, campaigners are calling on Lynners to boycott it.

But just a year before the use of animal acts is effectively banned, the leader of one of just two circuses which still uses them defended the tradition.

Ring mistress Petra Jackson said Circus Mondao had been “well-supported” since it first visited west Norfolk 14 years ago.

“People love us,” she said. “We bring a new show every year.

“Circus Mondao is fully licensed by DEFRA, who are the governing body for animal welfare in the UK. We have strict licensing laws and regular visits - announced and unannounced.

“We’ve recently had a DEFRA inspection which found all our animals in a fit and healthy condition. We’ve got nothing to hide at the circus.”

Ms Jackson, who grew up in Great Yarmouth before joining a travelling circus, expected families to pack out the 600-seater big top, where horses, ponies, llamas and the camel would be featuring in two daily performances.

She said over the course of the next few weeks “a good few thousand” would turn out to see the show.

But Animal Defenders International claims captive wild animals’ needs can not be met when they are continually on the move.

Its president Jan Creamer said: “Circuses simply cannot meet the needs of animals in small, mobile accommodation. You can help stop the suffering – don’t go to a circus with animals.”

The RSPCA says of circuses: “Travelling circus life is likely to have a harmful effect on animal welfare as captive animals are unable to socialise, get enough exercise or exhibit natural behaviours. Many animals develop behavioural and health problems as a direct result of the captive life that they are forced to lead.”

An Ipsos/MORI poll in 2006, the first year Circus Mondao pitched up in Lynn, revealed three out of five people thought wild animal acts should be banned.

Just 19 animals are now believed to be in use by Mondao and Peter Jolly’s Circus.

Existing licences will not be renewed when they expire in January 2020, effectively banning the acts.

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