Scandal: British circus lions 'stressed' and prodded with sticks

Sinead Moore
Scandal: British circus lions 'stressed' and prodded with sticks
Scandal: British circus lions 'stressed' and prodded with sticks

Circuslions and tigers in the UK are prodded with sticks and caged in misery at a school for performing animals in Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire.

Trainer Thomas Chipperfield is keeping the wild animals over the winter at the farmland which is billed as the Cairnglass Centre for Performing Animals and a "Circus High School".

Animal rights groups think it is a scandal that these big cats are forced to spend the winter in one of the coldest areas in Britain, reports the Mirror.

Although it is legal, Jan Creamer, president of Animal Defenders International, says: "It is heartbreaking to see these majestic animals reduced to this existence.

"It is a national disgrace – it is time for Britain to act and ban wild animals in circuses."

Activists say the three tigers and two lions are suffering "a life of imprisonment and a denial of their natural instincts" by being locked up in these cramped cages in a cold environment.

A shocking video has emerged of the tigers pacing around their cramped cage over and over again.

A spokesman for charity Animal Defenders International, said: "This abnormal, repetitive, 'stereotypic' behaviour is not seen in the wild.

"It's commonly observed in circuses and indicates the animals are not coping with their unnatural lives.

"Tigers in the wild are solitary and roam large territories."

The cats spent the summer touring with Peter Jolly's Circus. But with the season over, they have been moved to a croft at St Combs, near Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, known as Circus High School, reports the Daily Record.

Wildlife charity Born Free, who have inspected the site, said: "The cats live in three cages of the beast wagon.

"The female tiger lives on her own while the two male tigers share a cage, as do the two male lions.

"The wagon is attached to a small circular pen the animals can access when they are not locked away.

"The lions and tigers must share this pen. During the investigator's visit there was always at least one big cat locked in the sleeping quarters."

However, circus bosses insist they abide by strict regulations on animal welfare.

The cats being kept at the croft are 17-year-old female tiger Nadia, three-year-old males Altai and Syas and male lions Assegai and Tsavo, both four.

The croft is open to the public and crowds of people pay donations to come and look at the animals.

Aberdeenshire MSP Kevin Stewart of the SNP has called for a ban on the use of wild animals by circuses.

27 countries have already introduced restrictions.

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