Pampered animals at McLaren Circus ‘do not lie’

2018-06-08 16:05
David McLaren of McLaren’s Circus pets his camel on Thursday afternoon a few hours before the start of their first show.

David McLaren of McLaren’s Circus pets his camel on Thursday afternoon a few hours before the start of their first show.

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With animal rights groups threatening to protest outside McLaren’s Circus, owner David McLaren on Thursday said his animals are “pampered” and that if animal neglect was reported at any zoo or circus, he “would be the first to shut it down”.

McLaren’s Circus is being set up on the sports field of Voortrekker High School. He proudly showed off his lions, tigers, camel, ponies and two alligators.

The circus has come under fire from animal activists for its use of animals, especially wild animals, in their performances “for human entertainment”.

Wildlands Conservation Trust’s Andrew Venter said wild animals need to be seen and engaged with in their natural environments.

“Current normal practise in circuses across the world is to focus on human performances that demonstrate significant skill and ability,” said Venter. “Lions and tigers require intensive abuse-based training to get them to the point where they fear humans — chains, whips and sharpened tools are used all the time in this regard. This is a totally unnatural situation, which is also inhumane and unethical.”

McLaren agreed that whipping animals was abuse and said he did not use those methods to train his animals. “You can see they love me. If I were cruel to them they would cower away from me,” said McLaren, while scratching the head of a white tiger from its enclosure.

“They have freedom to walk in and out of their travel enclosures into the grass enclosure.

Quintin Louw sits with two white lions on Thursday afternoon.

He said his animals “do not lie” and show their true feelings. He added he does not push them during training if they are not okay.

“All the lions and tigers I have, I have had since they were babies.

“My oldest cat is 11 while the two youngest are two years old.”

He said he was busy building a retirement haven for his large cats on his farm in Meyerton, Gauteng. “We keep the animals in transit for two hours or less and as soon as we stop we set up the enclosures for the animals.

“We want to keep the traditional circus alive. We love our animals and if there is something wrong, we will address it.”

Venter said the worry lay with the animals’ mental states. “No rational individual can argue that they are happy, not stressed and not depressed.” He said a circus environment did not replicate their natural environment as their movements are always limited.

Shelia Musenguri poses with her snake just before the McLaren’s Circus opening on Thursday.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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