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Keeper defends lion and tiger enclosures at Cannock farm

A lion and tiger keeper has defended their living conditions after animal rights protestors tried to break into their enclosure.


The owner of lions and tigers being kept at a farm in Cannock has defended their living conditions.

Anthony Beckwith, said animal rights protesters tried to break into the site at the weekend.

Mr Beckwith, who runs Chipperfield's Circus with Thomas Chipperfield, has had an enclosure for wild animals at Streetway Farm in Watling Street, Norton Canes, Cannock, for the last three years.

The 30 year old said the location had remained discreet for much of that time but recently gained unwanted attention after being the subject of a national newspaper report.

Mr Beckwith said it was targeted by two balaclava-clad protesters who were confronted as they tried to break in to the premises on Saturday around 2pm.

He said: "They came around 2pm on Saturday.

"It is the fifth incident in total but this was the first in the middle of the day when we have been able to confront them.

"They said they were just out for a walk and they thought it was a horse sanctuary, even though they were wearing balaclavas with skull masks.

A lion and tiger being kept at Streetway Farm

"We are used to the issues now. This is the longest we've been in one place and the trouble usually dies down.

"I am just concerned for the others who share the site because things have been a bit tense lately."

There are currently three tigers and two lions on the site.

Mr Beckwith said the enclosures were bigger than legal recommendations.

He said the animals were stimulated and interacted with on a daily basis.

He also said the Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs and Cannock Chase District Council were both satisfied with animal welfare standards at the site.

Police and fire representatives also visit at least once a year to make sure the animal enclosures were safe, he added.

A tiger being kept at Streetway Farm

Mr Beckwith said: "Animal welfare and animal rights are two different things.

"No welfare authorities have ever complained about us, it is the rights groups.

"The welfare is based on scientific research.

"Studies have shown animals are better off in circuses than they are in zoos.

"Circuses are just one thing on these groups' agenda. Next it will be closing zoos and stopping people having pets."

A council spokeswoman said: "We can confirm that these animals are being kept on the site in accordance with a licence issued by the council under the Dangerous Wild Animals (DWA) Act.

"Several recent site inspections have been made by council officers and other agencies, including the council's appointed vet.

"We can confirm that the facilities on site satisfy the requirements of the licence."

No-one from Staffordshire Police was available for comment.

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