A licence to keep wild animals at the family farm of the circus trainer Mary Chipperfield was granted yesterday, despite opposition from animal welfare campaigners.
Test Valley Borough Council said permission had been given to keep four camels and two zebra at Croft Farm, near Andover, Hampshire.
A spokeswoman said a thorough investigation had been launched into the application and said there was "no supportable reason" why the licence should not be granted.
The move sparked fury from Animal Defenders, whose undercover investigation led toMrs Chipperfield, 62, being convicted of cruelty to an 18-month-old chimpanzee last January. She was fined £7,500. Her husband, Roger Cawley, was fined £1,000 for cruelty towards an ill elephant. No orders were made to prevent them from keeping or working with animals.
The licence application is understood to have been made by Mrs Chipperfield's daughter, Suzanne Chipperfield.
Animal Defenders said 4,000 of their supporters had objected to the application. They said the licence should have been denied because Suzanne Chipperfield was a director of Mary Chipperfield Promotions Ltd at the time of the trial.
The group said the farm was used as a family home and they feared Mrs Chipperfield and Mr Cawley could become involved in the management of the animals.
The director of Animal Defenders, Jan Creamer, called for the Government to take action to protect circus animals.
Test Valley council said it had taken the unusual step of making a statement about the licence application because of the level of interest.
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