Animal rights activists see red as McLaren Circus allowed to be staged in Gqeberha

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

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

Published May 29, 2023


Cape Town - A group of animal rights activists have been staging demonstrations outside the venue of the McLaren Circus in Gqeberha, calling for it to be gone.

It is claimed that the Transnet National Port Authority approved an application to host the show on its property, a few days after permission was denied by the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality (NMBM).

The McLaren Circus performances started on Wednesday last week and ended on Sunday.

Animal rights activist Carol Ann Kelleher said they wanted to send a message that circuses that used wild animals “no longer have a place in any society”.

“The research speaks for itself. These animals live a miserable existence and they perform out of fear.

They are caged a lot of the time and they are unable to exhibit behaviour natural to their species,” Kelleher said.

“They become stressed and display abnormal behaviours. Circuses with wild animals are being banned all over the world. South Africa needs to catch up. We should never look the other way when those who cannot speak for themselves are forced to endure immeasurable suffering,” she said.

Public relations spokesperson for Mclaren Circus, Karl Hildebrandt, dismissed the animal cruelty claims.

“None of our animals have been taken out of their ‘natural’ habitats.

All our animals are captive bred and raised from a young age in the circus environment. All our animals only perform what they are naturally capable of doing,” Hildebrandt said. “An inspector from the Eastern Cape Environmental Affairs also inspected our wildlife. After all these inspections, no warnings were issued, nor concerns addressed about any of our animals’ conditions or welfare,” he said.

Hildebrandt claimed attendees of the show were intimidated and made uncomfortable by animal activists who demonstrated during the performances. Warriors of Wildlife director Lionel de Lange said they were disappointed that Transnet approved the application to host the circus.

“Mclaren Circus comes to town, makes money from tickets and concessions and leaves with all these profits and our community gains nothing but a skewed perception of how wild animals are perceived,” he said.

Transnet did not respond to questions by deadline on Sunday.

Cape Times