Anger over circus visit

CIRCUS animals live a cruel and unnecessary life, two Port Macquarie volunteers believe.

In light of the Lennon Bros Circus moving into town from today, Gary Henderson and Sara Tilling placed an advertisement in the Port Macquarie News on page 7 in Wednesday’s edition and today’s on page 77, discouraging readers from supporting the circus.

Mr Henderson shares a passion for animals with his partner Ms Tilling.

The couple are members of For Australian Wildlife Needing Aid NSW, where they help rehabilitate and care for injured creatures in the Hastings. 

They also volunteered at a lion sanctuary in South Africa for two weeks about a year ago.

Animals who had spent the majority of their lives in circuses had retired at the sanctuary.

They are fighting to stop circuses using exotic animals all together, comparing the practice to battery hens.

“It’s an outdated practice and we’re doing all we can to hasten that decrease,” Mr Henderson said.

“We speak for the animals who are carted around and made to perform demeaning tricks.”

The couple believe showcasing circus animals sends the wrong message, particularly to children.

Removing an animal’s right to live naturally was a major injustice circuses such as Lennon’s inflicted, Mr Henderson said.

Lennon Bros is one of only two Australian circuses that use animals in its showcase. Animal trainer Rod Levy said all his creatures are well looked after and happy.

“People will have their opinions but you only have to look at how healthy these animals are to see we’re taking good care of them,” Mr Levy said.

In 2011, the other company Stardust Circus set up in Port Macquarie for a fortnight, spurring Ms Tilling and Mr Henderson to place similar advertisements in the Port News.

Ms Tilling said the purpose of the add was to alert readers to their point of view.

While council was under administration, the couple wrote, in conjunction with the RSPCA, to staff requesting a reassessment of the notion to ban such circuses from setting up on council-owned land.

The council responded by saying it held a referendum in 2010 to implement a ban but results opposed the idea.

The couple plan to write to mayor Peter Besseling and his cohorts to push for a new discussion on the idea.

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