By Kirsty Topping
ANIMAL lovers are being urged to boycott a circus which starts its tour of Scotland today (Wed).
Zippos use horses, dogs and birds in performances which have been branded as harmful to the animals and
The circus begins its 500-mile, 12-date tour on the eve of a debate in the Scottish parliament during which MSPs will debate a ban on using animals in such shows.
A spokeswoman for PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) said:
“Zippos…forces animals to endure the stress of intensive training, travel, confinement and loud, frightening noises and bright lights instead of allowing them to live a real and natural life.
“Horses are also high-strung, nervous and easily spooked, posing a risk of injury to themselves, the audience and members of the cast and crew. “
Branding the Horsepower show
“embarrassingly outdated’, she added:
“Compassionate people oppose the use of animals in circuses and prefer the many modern animal-free circuses which spotlight human creativity and talent and use voluntary performers who are able to go home and enjoy their lives after each show.
“We encourage all caring people to boycott Zippos and animal circuses. “
OneKind, formerly known as Advocates for Animals, plans to hold a demonstration of human circus skills outside the Scottish Parliament tomorrow to highlight their desire for animal-free circuses.
Policy director Libby Anderson said:
“There are many welfare concerns around the use of animals in circuses, such as the stress and confinement associated with constant touring during the circus season. Animals can spend many hours cooped up in transport or cages.
“We want the public to make it clear that travelling entertainments using animals are out of date. “
However the SSPCA has said it will be conducting checks on the animals as they tour Scotland.
Scottish SPCA Deputy Chief Superintendent Tom Gatherer said: “Zippos Circus has an open door policy with Scottish SPCA and we will be inspecting the circus as it travels around Scotland to ensure that the animals’ welfare is not compromised. “
During previous shows,horses were ridden around the ring, made to jump through hoops and made to rear on their hind legs.
In May, in Mile End, London, the circus had
“animal abusers’ spray painted onto one of their trucks and animal rights activists have handed out leaflets at previous shows.
The use of animals in circuses has come under increasing scrutiny, with several cruelty cases highlighting the issue.
Earlier this year secret footage showed Anne, a circus elephant owned by Bobby Robert’s Super Circus, being abused by her carers. She has since left the circus.
Zippos’ tour, tickets for which cost up to 15, begin in Ayr tonight and will travel to venues across the country throughout the summer.
After visiting Ayr, the Horsepower show will move travel to Glasgow, Greenock, Dumbarton, Falkirk, Kirkcaldy, Arbroath, Montrose, Stonehaven, Cumbernald and Kilmarnock before finishing in Kelso in early August.
Zippo’s Circus founder and director, Martin Burton, said that there was no need to do away with animals in circus shows and added that those in his care were well-looked after.
“’Zippos Circus believes there is a place for domestic animals in circus, providing the right animal husbandry is in place, which it is at our show. “
Despite that, the circus has also begun an new human-only show, Phoenix, which will tour northern Scotland until the end of July.
Westminister politicians have ruled out a UK-wide ban, opting for tighter controls instead.