Tom Duffy Circus which is starting a tour of Donegal, have rejected claims by animal rights protestors objecting to the use of animals in their circus.
Protests took place at the circus in Sligo and as it moves into Donegal today - in Ballyshannon and later in Donegal town and further up the county - more protests are expected.
But, David Duffy of Tom Duffy Circus, says they are totally dedicated to animal welfare and refuted any suggestions that their animals were not well looked after.
“It is fairly obvious to the 220,000 people who visit our circus every year that they can see there is no stress to our animals. “We couldn’t have an animal in our circus if it was stressed.
“All the animals that are in the circus have been born and reared here, it is natural for them, it is the environment they know.
We give the public the opportunity to see the animals after the show in their stable quarters,” Mr Duffy stated.
He added, “I don’t think we would be going for 20 years if there were any concerns (as to how we treat our animals). There are unannounced inspections by the ISPCA during our tours of the country and in our time of operation we have never been reprimanded, we have never been prosecuted, there have never been any reports from the ISPCA of negligence, abuse or mistreating of our animals.”
In a statement issued by the circus, they say there is a very big difference between animal rights and animal welfare. “We are all concerned about animal welfare, but the rights people are opposed to any interaction between animals and humans. The same people protesting outside our circus would be against any interaction with animals, horse-racing, show-jumping, the eating of meat, dairy products, that sort of thing.
“There is a huge difference. We are totally dedicated to animal welfare.
“The animals are all part of our extended family, they are part of our life and we spend all our time with them.”