A CIRCUS boss has defied activists who tried to ban his animal acts.
Al Zippen who runs the Melha Shrine Circus in America refused to be intimidated despite threats.
Zippen’s annual show is known as “the circus with a purpose” because it raises thousands of dollars for children’s charities.
But last year takings were hit badly because animals were excluded in a bid to appease animal cruelty activists.
This year Zippen said that because the public had voted with its feet the animals would be back.
“The votes were tallied in the box office, and the results were clear – bring back the animal acts!
“We tried it, we lost too many people.
“We usually attract 21,000 to 22,000.
“But last year we were down by 6,500.
“That’s a lot of people and a lot of charity dollars.”
Activists from a group calling itself the Western Massachusetts Animal Rights Advocates called on Zippen to cut animals from the show for a second year but he refused.
As a result they staged a demo and presented a petition on the opining night but the circus went ahead with minimal disruption
Zippen is the long-time chairman of Melha Shrine Circus which takes place in early May every year in West Springfield, Massachusetts.
It raises money in support of programs at Shriner’s Hospital for Children in nearby Springfield.
Zippen said the circus is doing what it needs to do in order for the show to go on and for the charity money to keep rolling in.
The acts included Elephants, Tigers and Dobermans.
The animal acts that were booked all have a reputation for treating their animals well, Zippen said.
He added that guarantees were demanded to ensure the animals are well treated.