AN animal-rights group has called on Halifax families to boycott a visiting circus.
The Captive Animals' Protection Society, which campaigns against creatures being used in entertainment, has asked the public to shun Circus Mondao, which features zebra, horses, camels and dogs.
But the circus urged families to ignore the "spiteful" campaign.
Craig Redmond, the group's campaign manager, said: "It's time to end the outdated practice of forcing animals to perform for our amusement, particularly when there are lots of high-quality circuses that rely entirely on human skills.
"In the 21st century there can be no excuse for continuing to allow the treatment of animals in this way.
"Opinion polls consistently reveal the public overwhelmingly oppose the confinement, transportation and training methods used by animal circuses."
Ringmistress Petra Jackson hit back, saying the society refused to acknowledge a Government report that said many circus animals enjoyed enriched lives.
She said: "CAPS runs a spiteful campaign in every town we visit, refusing any evidence that contradicts their incorrect views.
"We love our animals and they are kept in excellent conditions. This is not cruelty. A circus animal is like a trained animal. Is a trained dog being cruelly treated?
"We hope the people of Halifax come to our shows and make their own minds up." The circus, which opened last night, is performing in a big top at Illingworth Sports and Social Club, Keighley Road, Halifax, until Sunday. It is one of only eight touring the UK with animals.
Circus Mondao bosses chose to perform in Calderdale after receiving a letter from twins Amy and Matthew Marsden, of Copley, Halifax. Amy, a pupil at Copley Primary School, was among the guests at the opening show.