A circus has defended its use of animals after a campaign group urged people not to visit when the big top comes to Hemel Hempstead.
Zippos Circus, which uses four horses, two miniature horses and a flock of budgies as part of some acts, will be in Boxmoor later this month.
Animal Defenders International claims animals with travelling circuses have to endure constant transportation, live in rudimentary, temporary accommodation and endure abuse as part of training.
But Zippos spokesman Chris Barltrop said: “The animals are in purpose built transportation when the circus moves from site to site – for a good part of the year that is once a week – and the animals will probably be in a horse box for a couple of hours.
“They are put into that transportation at the last possible moment and as soon as the circus reaches its site their stable is set up and the animals are brought out.”
Zippos introduced horses to its show almost 20 years ago after consultation with circus goers and talks with welfare groups.
Mr Barltrop said animal training is a slow and careful process. “Anyone who has dealt with any animal from a white mouse upwards knows if you make friends with an animal it will respond to you and that is how it works with circus training,” he said.
Zippos Circus is in Hemel Hempstead from September 27 to October 1.