Dozens of animal charities have written to the government asking them to ban the use of wild animals in circuses.

Organisations including the RSPCA and Animal Aid are asking the Coalition to review the decision taken by Defra ministers not to prohibit beasts in the big top.

Other European countries, including Austria and Denmark, have made the move and campaigners are putting pressure on the UK to follow suit in order to protect our reputation as a ‘nation of animal lovers’.

The letter says: “We are writing to you on behalf of our hundreds of thousands of supporters urging you to ensure the coalition government reviews its recent decision not to prohibit the use of wild animals in circuses.

“The UK’s continued failure to ban the outdated practice of using wild animals in circuses, whilst many other countries have already done so, undermines the UK’s international reputation on animal welfare.

Although there is considerable public pressure not to use wild animals in the shows the RSPCA claims at least three big touring circuses still do.

Between them they have more than 36 wildlife performers.

A spokeswoman for the charity said they had recently rehomed Anne the elephant and Monty the camel from Bobby Roberts Super Circus.

The group of animal charities which wrote to the government claim they carried out a poll which showed that 94% of respondents believe that the only way to ensure high animal welfare standards is to ban the use of wild animals in circuses.