A CAMPAIGN has been launched to stop a mobile petting zoo coming to Leigh.

Animal charity Southend Animal Aid isn’t happy with Leigh Town Council’s plans for Easter Monday.

J&C Party Pets is set to bring baby rabbits, bottle-fed lambs, baby chickens and a skunk to Leigh Community Centre.

But the charity wants the event cancelled.

However Carole Mulroney, chairman of Leigh Town Council, said it is a fully licensed event - and would go-ahead.

She said: “We have had these zoos before without any problems at all. The organisations who bring the animals are fully licensed by Essex County Council. The animals displayed are never used if there is any sign of stress.

“Southend Animal Aid has got its views. I respect their views, but all of the issues that give them cause for concern are covered.”

In a statement on its Facebook page, the charity insists these type of zoos are “highly stressful” for animals.

But Craig Williams, director of J&C Party Pets, said 80 per cent of the zoo’s animals are rescue animals.

He said: “What they are saying couldn’t be further from the truth. Maybe there are zoos out there with bad practices but that is not us, I can assure you. There are going to be people against what we do, but tarnishing a company with speculation and rumours is a bit unfair. We are a business at the end of the day. I love animals, they love animals. They are at the more extreme end of caring for animals but they are passionate, I do respect that.” The charity also said there are concerns animals spend too long in cages and that these type of zoos have been known to sometimes abandon older animals because they only want the “cutest animals”. Some people have backed the campaign.

Johanne Deverrick shared the post on Facebook and said: “These kind of petting zoos are no places for animals, they are totally unethical.”

However, others are not sure what all the fuss is about.

Mum-of-two Sherrie Kelly, 36, of Highlands Boulevard, Leigh, said she still plans to visit the zoo when it comes to town.

She said: “I’ve been before and the animals always seem quite happy to me.

“I think this idea of a campaign is all a bit over-the-top. It’s all a bit much”

Dad Alex Davidson, 45, of Chapel Street, Leigh, added: “I’m not sure these zoos are a bad thing.

“It all sounds harmless enough to me. I may well go along and have a look with my son.”