Thousands back call to ban wild animals in circuses

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Thousands of people have backed The Independent's call for a ban on wild animals performing in circuses.

As we revealed yesterday, Downing Street is understood to have blocked advanced plans by the Department for Environment for a ban.

Almost 3,000 readers signed our online petition, while hundreds more left messages of support on the social networking site Twitter and our website.

Among the comments on Twitter was "animals belong in the wild, not in the circus".

Around 20 animals perform in British circuses, including five tigers. All three circuses which use them – the Great British Circus, Peter Jolly's and Circus Mondao – say the animals are well cared for by their trainers.

Animal welfare groups and vets say enclosures smaller than those in zoos, constant travel and performances in front of loud crowds make wild animals unsuitable for the big top.

Their suspicions the Government would not agree a ban intensified last month when it failed to announce one during the row about pictures showing Anne the elephant being beaten at Bobby Roberts Super Circus.

Virginia McKenna, who played the conservationist Joy Adamson in the film Born Free, said: "If the Government hasn't thought it through, the public has – more than nine out of ten of us say a resounding no to the continued exploitation of wild animals in circuses in the name of so-called 'entertainment'."

To sign The Independent's petition, visit independent.co.uk/circusanimals.

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