THERE are calls for performing animals to be banned in Tendring after it emerged a keeper mistreated elephants at the Great British Circus.

An member of staff was fired two months before the show came to Clacton.

Campaign group Animal Defenders International secretly filmed elephants being hit in the face with a broom.

The footage - posted on YouTube - shows the animals shackled in tents and displaying what the ADI claims is “disturbed, abnormal behaviour”.

Circus boss Martin Lacey said: “The Great British Circus does not condone any mistreatment of animals and as soon as unacceptable behaviour of one of the elephant grooms was discovered he was dismissed.”

But he denied claims the elephants were confined to a cramped transporter for longer then necessary and insisted they could move freely around their a stables tent and paddock where they graze and play.

Tendring Council does not allow circuses with performing animals on its own land but does grant the Great British Circus a licence for its two-week runs at Clacton Airfield.

Spokesman Nigel Brown said environmental services officers visited the site to ensure all the animals were properly looked after and well cared for in line with rules and regulations.

But animal rights campaigner and Tendring district councillor Lawrie Payne is now calling for a ban on wild animals in circuses.

“I’m totally opposed to wild animals - especially ones such as elephants, lions and tigers - being used for human entertainment,” he said.

“It’s not educational and it does nothing for the animals other than put them under stress. It shouldn’t be allowed in this day and age.”

He added: “I’m going to take a motion to full council to try stop this abuse of animals, which is totally unnecessary.”

Campaigners protested outside the Great British Circus when it came to Clacton in July.

But Harwich and Clacton MP Douglas Carswell sounded a note of caution about a complete ban on animals in circuses.

“Obviously we want to see high standards of welfare but at the same time I’m slightly cautious about the zeal of those who say we need a blanket ban,” said the Tory MP.

“I know for a fact some of those who care for the animals care for them very well.

“The campaigners have a point, but we need to do what’s best for the animals rather than what’s best to make us feel good.”