Local animal activists growl at circus

2019-01-17 06:01

Contined from page 1

“ANIMALS’ spirits are broken during initial training by whips, chains and bull hooks. And training does not take days . . . it takes months, even years. They do tricks because they are afraid - it is training by fear and intimidation.

“A tiger balancing on a small chair is not natural behaviour for a wild animal. Neither is a lion jumping onto a surface when whipped.”

Kruger adds: “Former Kouga Mayor Elza van Lingen, who did not condone the circus, would turn in her grave should she know that they are in town - with the permission of the Kouga Municipality. This after we urged them not to allow the circus in town.”

Animal-lover Carrie Nissiotis says, “It is a battle about animal rights and not welfare.

“The animals are used in an unnatural environment to perform unnatural tricks for financial gain. Their popularity boosts sales and benefits the owners of the circus.

“I hope that future generations would rather see the education and true value of these animals in an environment where it is about the animal and not profit.”

However, not all residents agree with the animal rights activists.

One circus-supporter, Jaco Botha, says, “We as a family are very excited to see the animals. As long as the animals are not hurt or abused, the circus is not doing anything wrong.

“The animals here are well-taken care of and looked after.”

Local resident, Talana Uys, says that the animals have more chance of being endangered when out in the wild instead of in here.

“This is not animal cruelty. “This is a great opportunity for people to see wild animals.”

McLaren Circus

McLaren Circus offered the Kouga Express a tour of the circus and its operations on Sunday to show how the animals travel, how they are trained and where they stay during shows.

The visit proved that healthy, well-fed animals lived in decent-sized moveable cages. The lions and tigers, a source of concern to many, still have all of their teeth and claws, contrary to claims on social media that they are being pulled, and their coats show no signs of being whipped or prodded.

McLaren Circus PR and Spokesperson Karl Hildebrandt says, “Great care is taken by the circus to ensure our animals are treated well.

“Our animal trainers, who adhere to the Performing Animal Protection Act and are in possession of a performing animals permit which is issued through the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, only use positive reinforcement to train the animals.

“We do not take away their natural instinct, but rather make them believe that they are capable of doing more - manipulating their natural instincts to obey commands.”

Hildebrandt continues, “Obtained from registered breeders, our animals are healthy, receive fresh daily meals - in addition to the numerous treats - and are always in a safe environment away from poachers and hunters. Travel time is furthermore limited to 200km per day and the containers they travel in, are well ventilated.

“When the animals get too old to perform, they retire on a farm in Gauteng.

“There is no way that we can present abused or ill-treated animals to the public. This would not only go against how we ope-rate, but it would also raise public concern from our paying customers.”

Hildebrandt further says that the circus is closely monitored by SPCA officers across South Africa. The SPCA also monitors the backstage, and behind the scenes treatment of the animals while shows are ongoing.

“We also work closely with veterinarians to ensure the animals are happy and healthy all the time.”

Kouga Municipality

Kouga Mayor Horatio Hendricks says, “The circus complies with national legislation and we could therfore not reasonably deny them permission to perform. Only 422 people signed the petiton against the circus - despite it being circulated nationally and internationally since December. This means that the municiality could also not use public opinion as a justification to ban the circus from performing in Jeffreys Bay.

“As long as McLaren Circus’ acts comply with the law we do not have the authority to deny them permission. If we do, we also deny the majority of citizens the right to make their own moral choices regarding such acts.”

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