AN animal circus which attracts regular protests is heading back for shows in Stanway and Clacton.

Colchester and Tendring councls are unable to stop the performances by the Great British Circus, which are on private land.

The circus features tigers, camels, zebras and llamas.

A former councillor who tried to get animal circuses banned in Tendring has spoken of his disappointment.

Lawrie Payne, secretary of the League Against Cruel Sport, said: “The sooner the Government legislates to ban all wild animals from being used in this way the better.

“I would call on the local council and our MPs to campaign to end the suffering which these animals are put through.

“I think it’s a great shame we, as a society, still feel we need to use animals, wild or domestic, for our entertainment purposes.

“It is a cruel and barbaric thing of the past.”

The issue was debated at Tendring Council two years ago after animal rights’ campaigners released undercover footage of a groom hitting elephants with a pole at the Great British Circus.The council decided a blanket ban could be illegal but signed up to a charter designed to safeguard the welfare of circus animals instead.

Colchester MP Bob Russell was at the forefront of a recent Parliamentary vote to ban the use of wild animals in circuses. The vote was passed but does not bind the Government to the decision. Circuses are banned from using council-owned land in Colchester.

The Great British Circus claims its animals are well cared for and says the elephant abuse, which saw the groom sacked, was isolated.

The circus spokesman said the British public should have the freedom to choose whether or not to go and see animals perform.

He said: “If the Government caves in to the pressure put on it by bullies who set fire to stores selling fur coats, dig up a corpse for the crime of breeding guinea pigs, set mink free to run loose in the countryside and intimidate families going to a zoo or circus, then we might as well give up.”

The circus is coming to London Roa d, Stanway, from next Tuesday until Sunday, July 24. Campaigners have promised to stage demonstrations on Tuesday at 6pm and Sunday, July 24, at 2pm.

The circus moves to Clacton Airfield for a two-week run starting on Tuesday, July 26.