PROTESTORS have defended their decision to demonstrate outside a travelling circus that has caused uproar in Wirral.

Peter Jolly’s Traditional Circus pitched up in Upton on July 23 for a series of shows featuring lions and tigers.

Since its arrival, protests have been held outside the showground in Saughall Massie Road and social networking sites have flooded with angry comments.

Campaigners protesting against the use of animals have been turning up at the site on a daily basis with placards before shows.

Anthony Beckwith, speaking on behalf of circus owner Peter Jolly, told the Globe that some of those protesting had been making threats towards circus staff, while others were said to be “upsetting children”.

Police were called to the showground last month following reports that a hooded man had climbed the fence and was abusing staff.

But while patrols have been stepped up in the area while the circus remains in town, a spokesman for the force said they have not been called to any “serious or critical” incidents involving the venue.

One of the campaigners, Lilian Chapman, today defended the peaceful protests.

She said: “We are not there to stop people making a living, we’re not there to scare children, we’re just there to educate people that wild animals are not for entertainment.

“Everything we are doing is for the welfare of the animals and we are doing it for the right reasons.

“If that circus was to turn around and say it was going to stop using animals and use humans instead, then long may they continue – we don’t want to close the business down. We just want to make sure they are doing the right thing.”

The circus has defended its use of animals in its performances.

Mr Beckwith said: “We don’t have animals from the wild, they are all bred within the industry. Our lions are British-born from several generations.

“If the lions didn’t receive full care we would not be able to have them in the show.

“There are people who have genuine concerns about how the animals are treated and we have an open-door policy to help calm their fears.”