IT'S a pity Petra Jackson (letters, April 13) undermines her defence of animals in circuses by making false accusations against protesters.

One of our number was loudly appealing to circus-goers not to support animal cruelty. Pauline spoke to people when they stopped for a leaflet. Other than that we were silent.

Possibly anticipating the imminent ban on ‘wild’ animals in circuses voted for overwhelmingly, including our own MP, by Parliament last year, Circus Mondao might evade the issue by using exotic animals that could nonetheless be termed ‘domestic’, since llamas are now being farmed, camels have long been used by humans in their native countries, and zebras are just stripey horses aren’t they?

The facts remain that circus animals are always in temporary accommodation, portable or otherwise.

The Three Counties Showground happened to allow reasonable space but how often is that available?

Animals are transported on a weekly basis from one town to another, spending their whole lives drastically confined to entertain fewer and fewer people as more of us become aware and decide we want no part of it.

It is well documented that they are often trained to perform tricks alien to their physiology and therefore likely to be painful, making it more likely that physical and/or verbal abuse will have to be used to make them comply.

During performances their ears, much more sensitive than ours, are subjected to blaring music. This cannot be likened to dog and horse show animals who are generally loved family pets. Tradition is always touted in support of inhumane practices. We could in that case still have legal wife-beating as long as the stick is no thicker than a man’s thumb, the birch in schools, ‘witches’ burned, slavery – all relegated to the less compassionate past. Circuses can offer some wonderful human acts such as trapeze artists, tightrope walkers, acrobats, jugglers, clowns, unicyclists, magicians...

Are we to infer that these are considered second-rate and that circuses would disappear without the animal acts?

Roberta Balfour