JAN LENNON, owner-manager of Stardust Circus with 50-year-old performing elephant Gigi.
JAN LENNON, owner-manager of Stardust Circus with 50-year-old performing elephant Gigi.

Cruelty claims mar circus visit

By ANDY PARKS andy.parks@northernstar.com.au

THE circus is in town, but not everybody is happy about it.

Stardust Circus is one of only two animal circuses left in Australia and the other, Lennon Brothers Circus, is owned and run by the same family.

The circus, which includes elephants, monkeys and lions in the show, as well as other traditional attractions such as clowns and acrobats, is setting up at the Lismore Showgrounds for shows starting today.

Jan Lennon is the owner and manager of the circus and says she is used to animal rights activists targeting their show.

"They can protest if they want, as long as they do it peacefully and don't stop people coming in," she said.

Jan said their lions were born and bred in captivity and she bottle-fed them in her caravan.

"Our elephants Arna and Gigi are 50-years-old and have been in the circus all their lives. "To take them out would be cruel, because it's all they've ever known. Often if you put them in a zoo they die," she said.

Amber Hall is a law student at SCU who also holds a degree in social science. She contacted The Northern Star yesterday because she had concerns about the welfare of animals in circuses.

"Circuses claim the method of training animals is based on the rewards system, but really it's based on a punishment system," she said.

"Elephant trainers have a stick with a hooked end; they call it a 'bull stick'. During the circus, the animal sees the stick and it reminds them of the punishment received in training. It's called operant conditioning.

"It is unlawful to cause pain and suffering to an animal even one in a circus."

Ms Hall said many local councils had banned animal circuses because of the rising claims of the cruelty that accompanies them.

According to Lismore Council, Stardust Circus has not submitted a development application, which is required to operate here. But a council spokesman said because the regulation is new they may not have known about it.



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