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Wednesday, 5 September, 2001, 15:43 GMT 16:43 UK
Britney 'cheetah act' criticised
Britney Spears in concert
Britney Spears: Exchanging male dancers for big cats?
Britney Spears has been criticised by animal rights activists for reportedly wanting to use four live cheetahs on stage.

The singer is planning to use the animals in her stage act at at the MTV Video Music Awards in New York on Thursday, according to US campaign group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta).

She is expected to sing her new single, Slave 4 U, with the cheetahs on stage beside her.

But Peta is furious and has demanded she remove the animals from the show.

cheetahs
Peta wants Britney to open her heart to the plight of trained wild animals
Peta activist Dan Matthews said in an open letter to the star: "We hope you'll open your heart to the plight of captive wild animals caged and forced to tolerate bright lights, crowds and frightening levels of noise.

"Cheetahs used in showbusiness are often trained through intimidation and with such devices as electric shock prods and sticks.

"Whippings, beatings and starvation are common methods used to break the spirit of free-roaming animals."

A spokesman for the singer refused to comment, telling the New York Post: "We're not allowed to disclose any information about her appearance."

The three-hour show will include performances from Jennifer Lopez, U2 and NSync.

Fatboy Slim leads the field at the ceremony with nine nominations, and Robbie Williams, Coldplay and David Gray are also nominated.

Last week Britney denied claims she was to marry boyfriend Justin Timberlake, of boy band NSync.

See also:

31 Aug 01 | Showbiz
Britney's engagement denied
20 Jun 01 | Music
Britney death hoax DJs sacked
11 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Britney Spears 'set for film role'
16 Mar 01 | Entertainment
Britney's novel debut
12 Jun 01 | New Media
Britney's online shopping spree
18 May 01 | New Media
Britney to launch 3-D DVD
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