Page last updated at 11:48 GMT, Tuesday, 2 June 2009 12:48 UK

Public urged to boycott big top

Anne the elephant (picture from Captive Animals Protection Society)
Anne the elephant has not performed in the big top for several years

Animal rights campaigners have urged the public not to attend a circus visiting the Scottish Borders.

Advocates for Animals and the Captive Animals' Protection Society (CAPS) have called on people to boycott the Bobby Roberts Circus in Galashiels.

South of Scotland SNP MSP Christine Grahame has also urged the public to stay away from the event.

The circus says it works closely with welfare groups and that none of its animals suffers "in any way".

Advocates for Animals' Campaigns Director Ross Minett said: "People can enjoy circuses without animals being forced to perform.

I believe the use of animals in circuses such as this is unnecessary and in many cases cruel
Christine Grahame MSP

"Many circuses now feature an all-human cast, removing the need to keep animals confined for long periods, transport them around the country and use hidden training methods to make them perform in the ring."

CAPS spokesman Craig Redmond said he was concerned about the plight of an elderly elephant.

"Despite repeated claims by the circus, Anne the elephant is not retired," he claimed.

"She may be too arthritic to perform typical circus tricks any more, but she is still transported across the country so people can pay to have their photo taken alongside her.

"She deserves a real retirement, in a sanctuary with others of her species."

Ms Grahame backed the call to boycott the event from 2 to 7 June.

'Justifiably proud'

"I believe the use of animals in circuses such as this is unnecessary and in many cases cruel," she said.

"There has been particular concern raised with this circus in relation to the elephant that is used and I hope Borderers will not endorse the exploitation of this animal by attending the show when it comes here."

The circus has regularly defended itself against any claims of cruelty.

Its website carries a statement about the measures taken to ensure its animals do not suffer.

It says the circus doors "have always been, and always will be, open to RSPCA inspectors".

It added that the circus was "justifiably proud" of its animal husbandry and said the whole family could come and enjoy a performance and "not be offended in any way".

In relation to its use of Anne the elephant, it said she received the "best possible veterinary care" and that it would cause her "unnecessary stress" to be anywhere other than with the circus.

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