AN MP is urging landowners to ban animal circuses as the big top comes to Horsforth this week.

Leeds North West MP Alex Sobel has joined with the animal rights foundation Peta in calling for the cancellation of all Circus Mondao performances in Leeds.

The foundation says Mondao is one of the few UK circuses still using animals in performances - and it labelled the practice "cruel."

But the allegations are being strongly denied by the circus which is stressing that its animals are loved and cared for.

Mr Sobel said: "The vast majority of people in the UK oppose the use of animals in circuses. Training animals to perform tricks, stunts, and contortions can cause immense stress and confusion – many live in constant pain and discomfort. Rarely are circus animals properly exercised or cared for between performances. Life on the road is wholly unsuitable for creatures who need space to roam and pastures to graze. So while the government dithers over introducing a ban, I call upon landowners to choose to do the right thing and refuse animal circuses the right to pitch up on their land."

PETA claims that animals in circuses endure abusive treatment and the stress of performing and living on the road - with the result that they commonly suffer from chronic health problems and psychological disorders, display aberrant types of behaviour, and die prematurely.

The group has sent a letter to Leeds City Council arguing that Greengates Farm's close proximity to Leeds Bradford Airport would see animals subjected to even higher noise levels than usual – which, it says, may mean that the site doesn't comply with the council's "Performing Animals Registration" requirements.

But Petra Jackson, from Circus Mondao, accused the animal rights group of blatant lies. She said horses in the circus performed dressage and that this was no different to horses performing in the olympics, the horse of the year show or local events.

"The training is by no means immense or stressful or cause confusion, our animals do not do stunts or contortions. And why would they be living in constant pain or discomfort?"

She said Circus Mondao's facebook page often showed live videos of its animals grazing freely in the surrounding fields. She stressed that their animals were fit and healthy and she denied claims of abusive treatment, chronic health problems and premature death.

"Just to put into context, zebras life expectancy is 15 to 20 years in captivity, we had three zebras, one passed away at the age of 20, the other 28 and the last one last year at the age of 32 would you call that premature?" she said. "We have OAP horses as our animals are family and they stay with us for life, they are not just a commodity like racehorses, greyhounds, showjumping horses etc."

She said circuses were inspected seven times a year and stressed: "We are fully licensed and regulated by DEFRA the animal welfare body for the government, they inspect our animals, transport and enclosures to make sure they are up to standard, which they are."

She also dismissed claims over noise levels from aircraft.

"We are not in the flight path of the airport and you can hardly hear the planes taking off or landing," she said. "I can hear more noise from the road in front of the circus than we can the airport."