A new show featuring the UK's only performing lions and tigers has arrived in Wales at the beginning of a national tour. The show, called An Evening With Lions and Tigers, is presented by 25-year-old Thomas Chipperfield and promises to lift the lid on the way circus Animals are trained as well as raising awareness of the threat to the survival of big cats in the wild.

Anthony Beckwith, one of the show's directors, said in a statement: "There are many misconceptions about the welfare of animals used for entertainment, so what we are doing is taking people behind the scenes, demonstrating the methods used in training and explaining how and why we do what we do and why it's an important part of our culture."


Chipperfield added: "Something we are also aiming to do is to draw attention to plight of the wild cousins of my animals. There's an estimated less than 4000 tigers left in the world and I believe people seeing them and learning about them sparks an interest in protecting them. Nothing can compare to seeing these animals in real life and so close up. It creates an admiration for the animals and if we can do that and get people on board with wanting to conserve these animals then that's a job well done."


The Chipperfield family has been involved in animal training since James Chipperfield presented his menagerie on the frozen river Thames in 1684. During the 1950s and 60s, Chipperfields Circus was the largest in Europe, with a big top that seated 6000 people and a programme that included hundreds of animals from elephants to chimps. Thomas Chipperfield grew up around big cats on Tom Duffy's Circus in Ireland before becoming the UK's only lion trainer when he joined Peter Jolly's Circus in 2013.


Chipperfield's new show is being launched at a time of renewed calls to ban the use of wild animals in circuses. On June 25, Jim Fitzpatrick MP tabled an Early Day Motion in the House of Commons calling for the government to introduce a ban that it announced in 2012 would be law by the end of 2015. Chipperfield, however, has defended his profession. Writing in The Times last year, he pointed out that the Radford Report, commissioned by the last Labour government, found no welfare reasons for a ban and that since 2012 UK circuses with wild animals have been regulated by a licensing scheme that sees them inspected six times a year.


Chipperfield added that an earlier 18-month study by Dr Marthe Kiley-Wilkinson, which was sponsored by the RSPCA and published as Animals in Circuses and Zoos: Chiron's World? highlighted the role that the close relationship between animals and their trainers could play in the scientific understanding of the way animals think and perceive the world. His new show includes an opportunity to inspect the big cats' living quarters and watch them being fed. An Evening With Lions and Tigers is in Welshpool, Powys, until July 12, before touring nationally. For show times, call 07821 155513.