ANIMAL rights activists are protesting outside Zippos Circus to condemn the show’s use of horses and budgies.

On the circus’s opening night, about 25 activists from Brighton Animal Rights handed out flyers and chanted “no excuse for animal abuse” at people walking into the pop-up venue.

Martin Burton, founder of Zippos Circus, categorically denies any allegations of animal abuse.

He said: “We believe in the right to free speech.

“However, our animal husbandry is excellent, the audience loves the animals and we are delighted to be back in Brighton.”

The group is planning to protest outside most of the circus’s shows between now and August 28.

Sarah Whitehead from Brighton Animal Rights was among the protesters at the Thursday demonstration on Hove Lawns.

She said:”It’s such a sad life for the horses because they’re travelling around the country and brought out into the ring with bright lights and screaming people.

“Animal slavery is animal abuse and Zippos is exploiting the animals for entertainment.”

The group will protesting outside the greyhound stadium this morning, Zippos again tonight, and outside the SeaLife Centre on Sunday.

The use of domesticated animals in Brighton circuses remains legal after last year’s proposal to ban such activities was voted down at Brighton and Hove City Council, in large part due to legal precedent.

See Monday’s Argus for a report on what the circus has to offer.