Animal rights activists say ‘no to the show’ regarding McLaren Circus

Animal rights activists demonstrating in front of the McLaren Circus in Bellville.

Animal rights activists demonstrating in front of the McLaren Circus in Bellville.

Published Mar 20, 2023


Cape Town - The McLaren Circus is back in town and has again irked animal rights activists who want the show gone.

This time the organisers have pitched their tents at the Jack Muller Park in Bellville where the activists and organisations, who are against the use of animals for entertainment, staged a demonstration in front of the venue, saying “no to the show”.

In March last year, while the circus was in Muizenberg the SPCA, on inspection found six contraventions of the Animal Protection Act and gave the organisers between 48 hours and seven days to remedy these, which the circus organisers dismissed as a list of recommendations.

Beauty Without Cruelty SA chairperson Toni Brockhoven said although circus personnel maintained circuses took care of their animals, she said some experts asserted the way in which circus animals were constantly confined resulted in an environment that denied animals essential physical needs such as sunshine and exercise, as well as social and ecological freedoms.

“Currently, 51 countries have banned animal use in circuses in entirety, or have imposed a limited ban, such as the use of wild animals. The Animal Protection Act 1962 recognises some aspects of animal sentience since it acknowledges that animals can experience physical pain.

“Furthermore, the prohibitions on infuriating and terrifying animals allude to the psychological suffering of animals. There is one animal circus in South Africa, where in particular, the wild animals perform for under five minutes of a 90-minute show; a clear indication that the show focus is on the talented and awe-inspiring human acts,” she said.

Brockhoven said inadequate accommodation and exercise areas and forced movement, handling by humans, noise, along with confinement resulted in short- and long-term behavioural and psychological effects.

“For us to continue to use animals to entertain us when we know they have very complex lives, emotional needs, and social behaviours, especially when we have so many technologies and non-animal amusements to keep us occupied, is our collective shame,” she said.

Cape of Good Hope SPCA spokesperson Belinda Abrahams said they had “proactively” conducted inspections and no contraventions of the Animals Protection Act No 71 of 1962 were apparent at the time of their inspection. She said the relevant permits were also found to be in order.

“We stand firm in our belief that wild animals belong in the wild. We are advocating for animal welfare by petitioning the City of Cape Town to take a firm stance and put an end to these types of performances in the province soon,” she said.

The McLaren Circus was approached for comment but did not respond by the time of publication.