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Circus rejects animal rights activists

Two animal rights activists who turned up unannounced at the circus in Naxxar were disappointed when the owner asked them to leave – despite making a public invitation two days ago.

Fleur Cilia Bucket, from World Events to End Animal Cruelty (Weeac) Malta, and a friend walked into a tent where the animals are kept in pens at about 3pm and later made their way to the outdoor area near the tigers.

At that point, the owner of Circo Fantasy, Mario Sali, spotted them and asked them to leave, Ms Cilia Bucket said.

She told him that she went there because he had said, through the media, that animal activists were welcome to visit.

She referred to his comments reported by various media outlets, including The Times, in which Mr Sali said: “Animal rights activists have to spend a month with us to see how we treat our animals before they dish out criticism.”

A spokesman for the Circo Fantasy said the activists were asked to leave because they trespassed on private property. Besides, they did so at about 3pm, when the animals were resting.

The invite extended to the activists was still valid, so long as they were accompanied by a member of an authority such as the police, local council or animal welfare.

Asked why, he explained that the reality was that activists usually had an agenda and the circus would not want any surprises. The spokesman warned activists the police would be called in if they trespassed again.

Ms Cilia Bucket said that, yesterday, Mr Sali told her that she needed a permit from the local council to be inside the circus. When she went to the local council, she said she was told to go to the police. The police did not know of any such permits either, she said.

The circus had been the subject of controversy as Naxxar residents objected to its location, originally in a field bordering St Paul Street. The location was then changed to the parking area in front of the former trade fair grounds.

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