Curtain call for wild animals at travelling circus

Circus Mondao ringmaster Petra Jackson with her zebra Humbug, who she describes as "family."
Circus Mondao ringmaster Petra Jackson with her zebra Humbug, who she describes as "family."
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The circus is back in town until Sunday September 8- but this will be the last ever time their performances can legally include animals.

Circus Mondao and their animals have been visiting the site at Norcross car boot field for the last 14 years, but on May 1 environment secretary Michael Gove announced a new bill to ban the use of wild animals in travelling circuses after January 2020- much to the delight of animal rights organisations.

Mr Gove said: “Travelling circuses are no place for wild animals in the 21st century and I am pleased that this legislation will put an end to this practice for good.”

But Petra Jackson, ringmistress and promotions organiser for Circus Mondao disputed claims that circus animals are cruelly treated.

She said: “Circus Mondao is licensed and regulated by Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and they have no welfare issues with us. The only animals we have who will be affected by the new laws are our zebra, two camels and our reindeer. The reindeer and camels are domesticated, but they are classed as “wild” in a circus.

“We have seven vet inspections a year, to make sure our animals are completely healthy. We bend over backwards to keep our licence. We have spot inspections, so we always keep our standards high.

“We have a farm in Lincolnshire where we live with the animals, they stay with us for life. They’re not something we buy then get rid of, they’re our family.

“I hand-raised the baby camel we have. All our animals have been brought up and raised in a circus environment.”

Animal rights activists often campaign for circuses to stop using wild animals, claiming they are an unsuitable environment and do not provide adequate care for their needs.

Jan Creamer, President of Animal Defenders International, said: “ADI has repeatedly documented the suffering and abuse of animals in circuses. Circuses simply cannot meet the needs of animals in small, mobile accommodation.”

Circus Mondao currently perform for nine months of the year as a travelling circus, visiting the Norcross site every year because they have a “huge following” there.

But Petra is concerned that when the bill is introduced, her animals will be “ripped from what they know.”

She said: “We’re not sure what will happen to our wild animals when the law changes. Hopefully we’ll keep them on our farm, but we have to think of their welfare. They’re used to being around people all day, every day.

“Kids get to ride a camel around our circus ring, and sadly they won’t get that opportunity anymore.”