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Protest march as circus animals invade Floriana

Protesters walked through Valletta yesterday evening calling for an end to the use of animals in circuses, even as lions, a hippo and a camel were drawing curious stares from the public just up the road in Floriana.

We should start campaigning for non-animal circuses instead

A circus agent who has been refused a police licence to set up a big top in a car park adjacent to the Granaries had brought his animals down from Kordin in open pens and set them up by the side of the road.

The agent, Johann Said, said he could not keep the animals “closed up any longer”.

Mr Said has had an 11th hour application to set up in Marsa instead accepted and was last night making preparations to run a first show tomorrow.

Meanwhile, one of the protestors, Myriam Kirmond of the Animal Rights Coalition, said circuses should no longer be welcomed in the country.

“We want their existence to stop – it is cruel as animals are always kept in small cages,” she said.

The protestors walked from City Gate to Great Siege Square where several bands played music.

The campaign is called Animal Circus = Animal Cruelty and aims to raise awareness about exploitation and cruelty involved in animal circuses.

“We should start campaigning for non-animal circuses instead,” she said.

Another circus involving animals is being held in Naxxar over the Christmas period.

Mr Said, however, has been barred by the police from setting up in Floriana even though a tribunal – to which he had appealed after the Police Commissioner turned down his application – ordered the police to issue a permit.

The shows were meant to have started on Tuesday but police officers blocked the car park.

Although the public could not watch any shows yesterday, passers-by stopped to gawk at the animals inside their pens on the street just by the planned venue.

A long line of circus trucks and pens were last night being moved to Marsa.

Mr Said said the move was without prejudice to a judicial protest he has filed against Police Commissioner John Rizzo after the Administrative Review Tribunal had instructed the police to allow him to operate.

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