Mayor defends circuses
By ANDY PARKS
A MOVE to ban circuses using wild animals from performing in the Lismore local government area has been defeated.
Lismore mayor Merv King used his casting vote to defeat a motion put forward by Councillor Ros Irwin on Tuesday.
Cr Irwin spoke passionately on the reasons why it was inappropriate in this day and age to have wild animals performing in circuses.
"There are three areas the RSPCA identifies in its total opposition to wild animals being used in circuses," she said.
"The first is they are kept in cages and can't roam, which is their natural instinct.
"The second is they are forced into social groups which they have no affinity with, which is quite terrifying for them. The third is they are continuously being moved and the transport process is very stressful."
Cr Irwin said 20 years ago she used to take her daughter to circuses because people didn't know any better.
"But we do know. I find it hard to believe when people say they think it's great for little children," she said.
"It is a shocking role model for people to show their children; 'Look at this elephant that is being treated cruelly'.
"You can't get an animal to do what you want it to do without breaking its spirit."
Cr Irwin said even animals which had been raised in captivity should be released into zoos.
"Animals from other circuses have been put into zoos like Dubbo, and they have thrived," she said.
"They know the difference between being treated cruelly and experiencing freedom."
When councillors were asked to vote on the issue of banning animal circuses in Lismore, they were split down the middle, with six votes for and six against.
Cr King then used his casting vote to defeat Cr Irwin's motion.
When contacted by The Northern Star and asked why he voted the way he did, Cr King said, "Why wouldn't I vote that way?"
"Circuses have been traditional for years," he said. "I'm a realistic person and I think that's how it should be. I've got some concerns, but I think circuses do look after their animals.