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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 September 2005, 12:41 GMT 13:41 UK
Performing bear circus axes show
Ming the Canadian black bear [picture by Captive Animals' Protection Society]
Ming the Canadian black bear in her "exercise cage"
A circus with the last performing bear in Britain has been forced to cancel a show in West Yorkshire because of protests by animal rights campaigners.

Jolly's Circus had planned a five-day appearance next week on land owned by the Lions Rugby Club in Featherstone.

But the club has scrapped the visit after parents voiced fears for their children's safety during any protests.

The Captive Animals' Protection Society (CAPS) said it had protested peacefully at every site the circus had visited.

We believe that campaign groups such as CAPS do not represent genuine public concern
Jolly's Circus statement

However, Lions club secretary Dick Taylor said: "The safety of our members is paramount and that's even more important with the juniors.

"Parents feel there would be a risk of their children being affected by violence from the protesters if there was a demonstration against the circus, so we've asked Jolly's not to come."

Campaigners are particularly concerned for the welfare of Ming - a female Canadian black bear, which the circus highlights as one of its main attractions.

A CAPS spokesman said: "The circus act consists of her being led into the ring on a lead and collar, she sits down and drinks a bottle of milk and is then led out again. She is kept in a so-called exercise cage which has nothing in it.

"This shows a complete disregard for the needs of the animal.

'Peaceful protest'

"There are only seven circuses in Britain with animals and this is the only one with a bear, which shows that most are adapting to public opinion.

"We would stress that there would never have been any trouble from our campaigners, who operate peacefully within the law."

A spokesman for Jolly's Circus, which is currently appearing on farmland at Swillington Common, Garforth, east Leeds, said: "We believe that campaign groups such as CAPS do not represent genuine public concern.

"The minister for animal welfare, Ben Bradshaw, has made it clear that the forthcoming Animal Welfare Bill will not attempt to ban performing animals in principle."

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