The promoter of what is being billed as “the last animal circus” in Malta is planning to launch a petition in favour of the genre.

Pressure to ban animal circuses from the island has grown over the years. Last summer an overwhelming 94 per cent of those who took part in a public consultation exercise said they believe all animals should be banned from circuses.

Animal rights activists have staged repeated protests arguing that animals are often beaten during the training process.

And in the last Budget it was announced that a White Paper would be issued on banning circus animals.

Local circus organisers have always insisted that the animals they use in their shows are not ill-treated.

In the face of this trend, two circuses – an animal and a marine one – will be set up in Malta in the coming weeks.

The Viviana Orfei circus, featuring tigers, horses, hippos, zebras, camels and ostriches, among others, is at Gżira this weekend. Its promoter, Silvio Zammit, said in a statement that this was the last opportunity to see an animal circus in Malta.

However, on Facebook he said a petition would soon be launched in favour of animal circuses, in reply to one person who thought they had already been banned.

In his statement he said the animals were born on the circus and formed part of the circus family. Animal cruelty, he added, was totally condemnable.