Protesters campaign outside circus

CONTROVERSIAL ... the Bobby Roberts Super Circus still uses animals.
CONTROVERSIAL ... the Bobby Roberts Super Circus still uses animals.

PROTESTERS turned up on the opening night of a circus in South Tyneside this week vowing to maintain their campaign against the use of animals.

The People’s Voice for Animals (PVFA) staged a protest outside the entrance to the Bobby Roberts Super Circus when it opened in Whitburn on Wednesday night.

The circus, which runs until Sunday at Wheathall Farm in Mill Lane, has come under fire from activist groups who object to the use of animals in the show.

As reported in the Gazette this week, the circus now uses only domesticated horses and ponies, which appear for only nine minutes of the two-hour performance.

Protesters outside of the grounds said: “We’d just like to say we’re urging people to boycott circuses that use animals. It’s not just wild animals who suffer, it’s domesticated animals too. There are lots of circuses with all-human casts that are just as good.

“In the wild, animals would cover up to 30km a day, but they can’t do that in captivity.”

The Roberts family attracted attention last year when a video was released that showed their elephant, Anne, 59, who has since retired to Longleat Safari Park in Wiltshire, being beaten by one of the circus grooms.

Anne is the oldest elephant in Europe, and is reported by vets to be in excellent health.

Since then the family has received threatening e-mails, phone calls and even death threats.

The story on the Gazette’s website sparked a discussion with more than 30 comments being added to the page.

Josser Anna wrote: “When I was eight my mum hired a violin teacher who hit me. As soon as she found out, she sacked him. Does this make my mum a child abuser?

“This type of ‘logic’ many protesters seem to be using against the Roberts family – if they are animal abusers for hiring a bad groom, then my mum is a child abuser for hiring a bad teacher.”

Biggreenvanman said: “I think circus shows are a thing of the past ... if you want to see animals, book a holiday to Kenya and go and see them in their natural habitat, not in cages being carted around from place to place.

“I asked my kids if they wanted to go and they all said no. So, we’ll not be going.”