AS Malvern animal rights campaigners plan further protests, a circus that uses wild animals has said it has nothing to hide or answer for.

Angry local campaigners and the Captive Animals’ Protection Society (CAPS) could be seen and heard making their views known outside Circus Mondao as it started its fiveday run at the Three Counties Showground on Wednesday.

Earlier this month the government announced that travelling circuses would be banned from using wild animals.

Ministers are planning legislation to outlaw the “outdated” practice and a tough licensing regime will be brought in while changes in the law are developed.

One of those who has been taking a stand outside the big top is Roberta Balfour, of Malvern.

“We’ve been handing out leaflets and posters and have been getting some very positive feedback from people,” she said. “They are keeping what should be wild animals in vehicles that are small enough to go on the road and I don’t think that is right. I think that wild animals should be in their own habitats, with their own kind. I’m also highly surprised that a business like the Three Counties Showground is allowing this to happen on its land.”

And Pauline Burgess, also of Malvern, added: “I was shocked to see the venue was welcoming this circus. I’m against any animal being used in a circus but I think it is particularly degrading for wild animals.”

However Petra Jackson, spokesman for Circus Mondao, defended its right to use animals and said they are excellently cared for.

“There is nothing wrong with how our animals are kept. They are not kept in temporary accommodation, they are kept in portable accommodation and they are transported in the right way. Our transport is inspected by the government and is all up to standard.”

She said staff are all fully trained and qualified, adding: “If you visit any county showground there are dog shows, horse shows, show jumping and we are no different from anything like that. It is all performing animals. Our animals are welltreated and, at the end of the day, a trained animal is a happy animal.”

Three Counties Showground spokesman Sharon Gilbert said the circus’ credentials had been checked and there were no concerns.

“All the appropriate authorities are satisfied with Circus Mondao and we have held our own discussions with them,” she said. “Everyone has the right to their own opinion but we are satisfied that there is nothing in terms of animal welfare to worry about.”

But CAPS is calling on the public to boycott the shows at Malvern.

Director Liz Tyson said: “Constant transportation, confinement and repetitive unnatural performances is no life for any animal and CAPS encourages families to choose one of the all-human shows to get their circus fix this year.”