AN ANIMAL welfare group have urged Derry City Council to consider banning animal circuses from performing in the city.
The Animal Rights Action Network (ARAN), who are currently staging a nightly protest at the YMCA grounds in Drumahoe where Circus Sydney are performing, have called on the council to acknowledge such circuses are "morally and ethically wrong." The protest will run until July 6 when the circus leaves Londonderry.
Aran spokeswoman Louise Graham said the group were concerned with the care and treatment of the animals.
She said evidence had now been collected by Animal Defenders International to show often circus animals were forced to live and work in appalling conditions.
"To see animals used as entertainment is absolutely disgraceful," she said.
""Animal are not volunteers, they have been deprived of their precious freedom for a lifetime of cheap tricks and suffering.
"Once people see the suffering and realize that a circus is no place for a wild animal, we hope they'll choose to patronise circuses that do not use animals."
She urged Derry City Council to consider banning animal circuses from the city but a spokeswoman for Derry City Council said their primary responsible in relation to circuses was in regard to public health and safety.
She said circus were at present not permitted to perform on council owned property but said the local authority had no authority to implement a city wide ban.
"Officers from the Council visited the site to carry out inspections to ensure the bye-laws regarding health and safety to the public are in place," she said.
"While Derry City Council has no authority to ban circuses with performing animals to operate in the Council area, it does not however permit such circuses from operating from Council owned sites and facilities."
She said council had last year received a deputation from the Animal Welfare Federation of Northern Ireland and is supportive of the work they do in relation to the health and safety of animals.
Meanwhile the owner of Circus Sydney Yvette Scholl has moved to reassure the public in regard to animal welfare.
She said the protestors were entitled to their opinion and to their protest.
"We have no problem with them expressing their opinion. We don't treat our animals badly so we don't feel bad. In Circus Sydney our animals are like part of the family, they are well treated," she said.