SPCA lashes out at circus

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McLaren Circus done DAVID RITCHIE The McClaren Circus presents a two-hour live show packed with wild animals. Picture: David Ritchie

Cape Town - The local branch of the SPCA has accused a circus of falsely using its name to endorse its performing animals acts that include lions and tigers - a charge the circus denies.

But McLaren Circus, started in Cape Town by two brothers in 2005 and currently giving performances in the city, admits telling audiences it has been inspected by the SPCA “and that all was found to be in order”.

“This is fact and we do get inspected in each town we play across South Africa,” said spokesman Arnold Dickson.

The Cape of Good Hope SPCA said this week it had come to its attention that the circus was announcing at shows that its animal acts had been approved by the SPCA. “We would like to make it very clear that this is not the case and that we remain strongly opposed to animals used for entertainment,” it said.

SPCA wildlife unit manager Brett Glasby said they did not approve of animals in travelling circuses or menageries. “The SPCA is opposed to any degree of confinement or the use of any animal in sport, entertainment or exhibition likely to cause distress or suffering or which may adversely affect the animal’s welfare.”

Performing inappropriate and unnatural tricks in the name of entertainment did nothing to foster respect for animals, and desensitised people, especially impressionable children, to animal suffering.

“Animals in circuses do not benefit any educational, conservational or scientific cause and our branch of the SPCA believes wild animal acts should be outlawed.”McLaren bills itself as a “traditional circus” that uses a variety of “beautiful animals” including dogs, goats, miniature horses, camels, Welsh ponies and pythons, and says its lions, “white lions”, Bengal tigers and “white tigers” have all been born in captivity.

According to its website, the circus is regularly inspected by various animal welfare organisations throughout South Africa.

We see our animals as ambassadors of their species. They have all been born in captivity and have never been in the so-called ‘wild’.

Our animals do not perform any unnatural tricks. Each individual animal is observed by our trainers and based on their natural abilities, they are trained accordingly.”

“We can assure you that our animals receive the best care available in South Africa (and) we consult with specialised veterinarians across South Africa to maintain our high standard of animal care.”

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Cape Argus

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