Wild animal circus - and protesters - heading to Shropshire
A circus which still uses wild animals will roll into the region this week - with Europe's youngest lion tamer in tow.
Thomas Chipperfield, 24, will perform as part of Peter Jolly's Circus in both Chirk and Oswestry - one of the few remaining circuses with live animals.
The performer, whose family have been involved in circus life for 300 years, is a major draw at the circus, which has set up camp at Chirk Airfield.
The circus is one of only a handful which still use wild animal acts and, ahead of a proposed ban next year, protestors have campaigned outside recent shows around the country.
Visitors will be able to make up their own minds over the controversy when the circus comes to the town from Wednesday next week.
Circus spokesman Anthony Beckwith said the shows at Chirk would continue until Sunday before the circus moves to Oswestry to a site near Maesbury Industrial Estate.
He said: "We have had a group of protestors from Liverpool following us around recently but most people who are not sure about the use of wild animals do enjoy the show, they think it is fantastic.
"We have an open door policy and people are more than welcome to come to see how we look after our animals."
He said Thomas Chipperfield had been with the circus since last year and has two lions and three tigers.
Mr Beckwith said the lion tamer was the first to come back to the UK since a new licensing system came into place.
He said: "Peter Jolly decided to reintroduce the lion-taming act to the circus. The licensing system is really strict and it has given us massive credibility.
"We must have four inspections from vets each year and then Defra, the government inspectors, inspect us three times a year.
"Everything involving the animals has to be documented and everything is strictly controlled.
"There has been a lot of bad press about circuses but any problems are called by individuals themselves, not the circus as a whole.
"Other circuses use domestic animals but we have wild animals. Hopefully people will come along and make up their own minds."
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