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Circus animal debate begins

Camel trainer Rod Levy with Curley and Masai at the Bundaberg Showgrounds.
Camel trainer Rod Levy with Curley and Masai at the Bundaberg Showgrounds. Mike Knott

AS the circus rolls into town, so does the emotional debate about the inhumane treatment of performing animals.

Bundaberg woman Majeeda Malki has written to Bundaberg Regional Council urging it to ban any animal circuses from the city, but Lennon Bros Circus manager Cheryl Lennon said this was not necessary.

“These animals are treated extremely well,” Ms Lennon said.

“They are not hurt in any way.”

Ms Lennon said the animals were all born in captivity and had never known any other life.

“They would die if they were released,” she said.

“They are trained with positive reinforcement, not cruelty.”

The circus, which is home to lions, camels, monkeys, alpacas, dogs and ponies, operates on the east coast from Sydney to Cairns.

“We are not moving every day, but the animals are always on new turf. It’s not like they’re sitting in one place all the time,” she said. “They get plenty of enrichment.”

Ms Lennon said she challenged anyone who believed the animals were being mistreated to go to the circus.

“They can come down any time, day or night,” she said.

But Mrs Malki said it was far from the animal’s natural habitat.

“I’ve always had strong feelings about animal welfare, but not this strongly until I watched them roll into town,” she said. “You’re not going to get wild animals to do those things without pushing them.”

Mayor Lorraine Pyefinch said while the council had powers to ban circuses as others had done, it would not stop them from performing on private land. “It’s a very emotive issue but whether banning helps, I don’t know,” she said.



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