ANIMAL rights protesters have hit out at a circus which features Bury’s best-known clown.

CAPS (Captive Animals’ Protection Society) has called for a boycott of Circus Mondao because it uses animals.

About 15 campaigners staged a protest during last Wednesday’s show at High Bank Farm, Walshaw Road, Tottington.

It was the first performance on home turf for Bippo the clown, also known as 20-year-old Gareth Ellis, from Ramsbottom.

Circus Mondao, which features zebras, camels, ponies and goats, is one of the country’s few remaining animal circuses. CAPS is against the use of animals because of the need to keep them in confined spaces for long periods of time.

Paul Thomas, CAPS’ campaigns assistant, said: “There is no place for animals in the circus, if people want to see zebras and horses they can see them in the wild.

“We would encourage people to avoid all animal circuses and to wait until one of the many amazing all-human shows arrives in town.”

But ringmistress Petra Jackson said: “An RSPCA inspection was carried out on all our animals prior to the show and the inspectors said there was nothing to worry about.

“We are a traditional family circus and our animals have been with us for years. They are part of the family.”

Inspector Bryn Williams confirmed a small number of complaints had been made during the event.

A 17-year-old girl also reported a minor assault after being shoved by a campaigner.

Insp Williams said: “The alleged victim has not followed up the complaint with police.”