CIRCUS bosses say protests have backfired and boosted their audience numbers.

Protesters turned up at the Great British Circus, at Clacton Airfield, on Sunday, to object against its use of animals, including elephants, lions, tigers, llamas, reindeer and camels.

Jeff Link, a spokesman for the circus, said the row has helped to keep their big top full.

He even said he was “grateful” to the protesters.

Mr Link said: “We had a very good house as a result of all the publicity. It is fantastic.”

“We know our animals are well looked-after. If you ask these people on the picket line how many of them have seen what goes on, I would say not many.”

Jane Williams, who coordinated the protest, admitted she had not seen the show. She said: “I do not need to go.

“Travelling circuses by their very nature do not allow animals to have their natural environment.”

She said the protest had gone well and attracted about 50 people.

The protesters did not convince any customers not to go in on the night but she added: “Maybe they will reflect on that afterwards.”

Debbie Chisholm, spokesman for Essex Police, said the protest was peaceful and officers left the scene at 3.45pm.