Could this be the death of the circus?
The use of exotic animals in the circus has long been a controversial topic. Animal liberationists claim it is inhumane and purely cruel, while some say it is harmless fun.
But the naysayers haven’t stopped Stardust circus owners Lindsay and Jan, and their 30 family members, keep up their family's 160-year-old tradition.
However, times are getting tougher, with 41 councils across Australia banning Stardust from operating on their land due to community uproar.
The most recent of them is Canterbury-Bankstown Council in Sydney’s southwest.
“We had over 200 submissions and to be honest it was 50-50, some pro, some against, but we are not banning circuses in Canterbury Bankstown, we are just saying you can’t have it on council land,” Mayor Khal Asfour told A Current Affair today.
However, public land is too expensive to hire and insure on according to Jan and Lindsay, and with fewer council venues available to them, they are worried they will soon be out of business.
“If more and more councils ban we are in big trouble,” Lindsay said.
So how are the resident Stardust lions and monkeys really treated?
“We just got an A rating from the NSW government for the facilities we have for these animals. Beds up in the cabin means they go up and sleep in air-conditioning,” Jan said.
Lion tamer Matt has also pointed out there’d never been a safety issue at Stardust, adding that “not everyone can afford to fly to Africa to see a lion and you don’t get to see them close up as you do in the circus.”
When asked about whether a zoo can take them, Jan said the zoos didn't want the animals.
"They can’t throw them in with other lions! (If) they don’t get on, they’d kill each other," she said.
Winona looks after the monkeys. She told A Current Affair, “We have been praised by RSPCA inspectors on the condition of our animals, and the garbage I read from some of these protestors is just outrageous.”
When A Current Affair spoke to attendees, no one supported a ban on exotic circus animals.
“Why are people so negative about everything? Why can’t they be more positive and look at the good side of it?” one man said.
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