CAMPAIGNERS gathered outside a circus in Neston they accused of violently abusing animals.

Bobby Roberts Circus, based in Northamptonshire, was held at Chester High Road at the corner of Raby Park Road from Thursday until Sunday.

Protesters met on Thursday’s opening night in a bid to inform circus-goers of the circus’ record on its treatment of animals.

In March, charity Animal Defender International released footage they had secretly recorded of an old, arthtritic elephant called Anne being hit with a pitchfork while in the care of the circus.

Over a three-and-a-half week period, she was beaten 48 times.

Workers were also filmed spitting on a camel and beating ponies.

The protesters claimed a number of people turned back and did not attend when told about the animals.

Katherine Green, spokesperson for the group, said: “Many people were not aware the circus had animals and one lady, coming out from the earlier performance, told protesters that she was a horse owner herself, and was upset to see horses performing and how miserable the animals looked.

“This is an archaic spectacle that belongs in the history books. There are many fantastic circuses now which have talented human performers.

“To trail animals around the country and make them do unnatural acts has no place in the 21st century.”

In June, the House of Commons voted to ban the use of wild animals in the circus – but that ban has not yet been introduced.

Bobby Roberts circus now only uses horses, ponies and dogs after the elephant was rehomed.

The campaigners are supporting national charity the Captive Animals’ Protection Society (CAPS), in calling on the public to boycott one of the UK's few remaining animal circuses.