Cape Town - The owner of McLaren Circus on Monday said his animals are “pampered” in reaction to planned protests against his shows this week.
“My animals are guaranteed a meal every day, water and veterinary care. These animals are being pampered: In the wild, animals struggle. They have to hunt every day and battle against illnesses,” David McLaren said.
The local SPCA had inspected his animals and nothing untoward had been found. The circus will be performing in Stellenbosch from Thursday.
Animal rights non-profit organisation, Beauty Without Cruelty, said it was planning to protest against the circus on Saturday.
“The animals’ incarceration, learning, and performing on demand is an affront to people who do, in fact, care for the animals’ well-being,” chairperson Toni Brockhoven told News24.
McLaren said all animals in his circus were bred from parents who were captive.
Brockhoven said this did not make them domestic or docile. The stress of continued confinement and transportation resulted in long-term suffering.
“A circus trailer and small exercise cage do not, and cannot, meet even the most basic needs. There is no space for these animals to even build up to a full-speed run, climb or claw at a tree or even get away from each other.”
McLaren said he was not surprised by the planned protests.
“We live in a society where people love to protest. Everywhere we go these elite white people follow. Everywhere there are elite white women standing and spreading their opinion.”
He said the protesters were hypocrites. Hunting was still allowed, elephants were used in safaris, and people rode horses, but this was not considered keeping animals in captivity.
Circuses were founded on the interaction between people and animals, and a circus could not exist without animals, he said.
“People love the interaction between animals and people. It’s why they come to the circus.”
In March 2016, McLaren said in a statement that animal rights protesters had threatened him. They spray-painted circus property and ate objects representing human flesh, in an effort to raise awareness of animal cruelty.