Animal activists growl at circus

2018-06-07 16:33
McLaren Circus performing with lions and tigers in 2016.

McLaren Circus performing with lions and tigers in 2016. (McLaren Circus facebook page)

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The arrival of the McLaren’s Circus in Pietermaritzburg after a five-year absence from KwaZulu-Natal has animal rights groups up in arms over the circus’s use of animals “as entertainment”.

McLaren’s Circus, which advertises itself on its Facebook page as a “two-hour live show that packs lions, tigers, camels, ponies and much more under the big top, touring South Africa” will start their 10-day show on Thursday night at the Voortrekker High School sports field.

However, not everyone is happy that the circus is coming to town, with animal rights groups speaking out against the circus and their use of live animals in their performances.

Ban Animal Trading’s Prathna Singh said that keeping animals in captivity was a cruel practice and that circuses that used animals offered no conservation or educational value to their audience.

“Lions jumping through hoops is not natural behaviour for a wild animal,” she said.

“Dogs were domesticated generations ago but even if a wild animal is bred in captivity, the wild instinct remains.

“They are not pets, they should be in the wild. No enclosure can replicate their natural habitat. It is unethical.”

She said the main concern was not specifically how the animals were being kept, but the trauma they might face living in captivity as well as “being trained and forced to travel around the country”.

Animal activist Karen Borain said on Wednesday that there are many reserves in KZN where people can go and see the animals in their natural habitat.

“Watching a lion jump up onto a surface when whipped does not teach a child anything.”

McLarens Circus founder David McLaren yesterday assured The Witness that everything was above board and legal, saying his animals were “pampered” and well looked after.

McLaren offered The Witness a tour of the circus and its operations today and to show the journalist how the animals travel, how they are trained and where they stay during shows.

“We love and care for our animals and you can see it in our performances. We train our animals using positive reinforcement,” he said.

Voortrekker High School said they would respond to media queries on hosting the circus today.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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