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VEGAN campaigners staged a protest outside Circus Mondao in Upton Warren, against the use of ponies, llamas and pigeons in its performances.

A dozen protestors from Worcestershire Vegan Action (WVA) turned out on Worcester Road last week, holding placards and handing out leaflets to circus visitors.

Communications officer for WVA Ronald Lee said: “People attending the circus were very receptive to the protesters' message and several said they would never go to an animal circus again.

"We believe that the use of animals in circus performances is not only harmful to the welfare of the animals themselves, but also sends a damaging message to the public, and particularly to children, that animals can be manipulated for human amusement.

"Circuses force wild animals to perform unnatural tricks and, when not performing, the animals are kept in cramped conditions which cannot meet their most basic welfare needs.”

Animal Defenders International condemned the circus prior to its arrival in Bromsgrove last Wednesday for its ‘lack of veterinary attention, substandard animal facilities and poor protection of the public’.

But ring mistress for Circus Mondao Petra Jackson said the campaign groups have ‘made a judgement about something they know nothing about’.

She said: “We had lots of lovely people come to see us in Bromsgrove, whereas these protesters have never been to our circus and have never met our animals.

"We’ve had lots of lovely comments from people that have actually watched our show and met our animals. It’s people who judge us and say what we’re doing is cruel that have never been to a circus.

"They should come and see for themselves.”

Circus Mondao hired a parking attendant for its performances in Bromsgrove, due to protesters allegedly stopping traffic on the busy road to hand out leaflets.

Circus staff also claim to have confronted protesters about leaving a dog locked in a hot car nearby.