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Circuses: no place for animals - protest at Rockdale

Lee Rhiannon 11 Jul 2013

The circus is coming to town – in this case to the Sydney suburb of Rockdale. But there is no excitement in the air with this visit as this Circus – Stardust - still insist on using animals in their shows.

On Saturday 13 July Animal Liberation NSW will protest the continuing use of animals by Stardust Circus. The protest is also calling on Rockdale City Council to no longer allow circuses that use animals to operate on council land. The protest will be held at Cahill Park, Princes Highway, Tempe from 12-2 pm. The protests facebook page can be found here.

The use of animals in circuses is one of those archaic traditions, a vestige of a time before television and national geographic documentaries, when the circuses coming to town with its exotic animals was the only chance for people to witness wild creatures like elephants, lions and tigers.

Along with these animals there were also beared woman, ‘freaks’ – people generally with some sort of deformity, and even Aborigines, advertised as ‘wild savages’.

As time went on circuses threw out these cruel traditions, and yet the one thing some retained is the use of animals. Wild and domestic animals are forced to perform tricks for the crowds and are often kept in inhumane conditions.

More and more people see the error of circuses using animals. Often when they arrive in town they are met by local opposition. Many local councils do not permit circuses that use animals to set up the big top in their area and Animal Liberation NSW has been campaigning for years for Stardust Circus and Lennon Brothers Circus to stop using animals in their performances.

Presently the Australian requirements for the keeping of animals in circuses are far below what is generally required for the same species kept in zoos and are inadequate in protecting the animals’ welfare.

The non-domestic animals found in circuses are wild by nature and are genetically inclined to roam in open spaces, form complex social groups and have constant stimulation. Many of these animals in circuses exhibit stress and anxiety induced behaviour, such as swaying and pacing, from having their natural behaviour suppressed.

Both Ipswich council and Lismore city council voted to ban animal circuses, a success for the local community. A list of areas where these bans are in place can be found here.

Some countries have taken a stance, including Bolivia, Austria and Singapore. National, regional and local governments in at least 30 countries have stood up and banned the use of exotic animals, signifying a change in attitude that will hopefully continue to grow.

The argument that a circus needs animals to be successful does not hold up - you only have to look at hugely popular circuses like Cirque du Soleil and Circus Oz to see that the success and economic viability of a circus doesn’t require the use of animals. These circuses that only have human performers as entertainers travel the world and are often sold out.

Congratulations to Animal Liberation NSW and all the councils that only allow circuses with no animal performances

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