ANIMAL rights campaigners will stage a protest if a controversial animal circus returns to Chingford Plain.

The Great British Circus has got the go-ahead from the City of London Corporation, which owns the plain, for a two-week run pencilled in for the autumn.

But the circus which features performances by exotic animals including lions, tigers, llamas and reindeer caused an uproar when it came to the area in November.

Garry Sheen of Essex Animal Rights, which protested against the circus last year, said: "We will absolutely stage a protest if it comes back.

"The animals are on the road for nine or ten months a year. With the best will in the world they cannot be given the best conditions while travelling."

Mr Sheen said his organisation was not against circuses as a whole because most no longer used animals, but no animal welfare group supported animals in circuses.

He added: "Martin Lacey makes out that his Great British Circus is educational and children are learning something when they go to the circus.

"But what are your children learning watching lions jumping through hoops? The only thing they are learning is that we can dominate animals and make them do humiliating tricks."

The news comes as the Animal Welfare Bill currently going through the House of Commons includes an amendment to ban animals in circuses completely.

A City of London spokeswoman said: "The activities of the circus are legal in the UK and inspections undertaken have not raised concerns about animal welfare."

She said that Waltham Forest Council would have to grant an entertainment licence for the circus to go ahead.

An RSPCA spokeswoman said: "The RSPCA is opposed to exhibitions or presentations of all animals, whatever species, in circuses."