There are to be no horse-drawn chariot races in the Circus Maximus, contrary to the posters around Rome advertising the Ben Hur Live show in September. Neither will there be performances with camels, goats, donkeys or trained hawks, after the city denied the necessary permits for the show.

The news has been welcomed by animal welfare groups who feared ill-treatment of the animals. Italian animal rights organisation Lega anti vivisezione recently submitted a complaint to the city claiming the show would violate animals' rights, comparing it to entertainment acceptable in ancient Rome.

Although the show will not take place in the Circus Maximus, organisers have now planned the event at the Nuova Fiera hall near Fiumicino instead, hoping that the opening night will be on 29 September.

On the subject of animal protection, the Ben Hur Live website cites an unnamed independent international animal rights group, which will be provided "with full and unlimited access during rehearsals and on tour so that they can work as external observers."