ANIMAL RIGHTS protestors were on hand to greet a circus that rolled into town last night (Tuesday, August 20).

The peaceful gathering was held to protest the use of live animals in Peter Jolly’s Circus, which arrived in Darlington yesterday.

Their use of animals including lions and tigers has been met with concern from animal rights groups and members of the public.

One circus-goer called for more to be done to clearly advertise the presence of live animals in the show.

Val Govan - from Barton, North Yorkshire – said: “I was horrified to see the lions and tigers. There was no mention of the lions on the advert.

“I would not have wanted to go and would not have supported it if I’d known. I could not believe it and I do not want kids seeing that.”

The Animal Defenders International (ADI) group has called for a boycott on Peter Jolly’s Circus – one of only two in England that still performs with wild animals.

Chief Executive Jan Creamer said: “Animals with travelling circuses are on the road for almost the entire year.

“That means they have to endure constant transportation and live in rudimentary, temporary accommodation.

“Worse are the horrific abuses during training that Animal Defenders International has exposed behind the scenes in circuses, not just in the UK, but all over the world. “We urge people to visit circuses with human only acts – those acts have a choice.”

A spokesman for the circus said the four tigers and two lions recently introduced to the show by the Chipperfield family were being treated in line with high welfare standards.

Rona Brown, of the Classical Circus Association added that the welfare of the animals had been checked by vets from Defra (the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs).

She said: “The vets were satisfied with the way the animals were cared for and handled and that the Chipperfields were compliant with all the regulations requirements.

“These beautiful animals have been with the Chipperfields since they were cubs and are very much members of the family.

“They come from bloodlines which have been involved in circus and other performance for more than 20 generations, so they are extremely comfortable with their lifestyle.”