Circus clan living the dream
IT'S EVERY kid's dream to run away with the circus and that dream is a reality for 23 of Jan Lennon's descendents.
The Stardust Circus owner and her family are in Lismore this week performing at the Lismore Showground.
Mrs Lennon has been with the circus for over 50 years.
She has watched her seven children and 16 grandchildren all play a part in the circus, whether it was her 22-month-old grandson on the teeterboard or her 11-year-old granddaughter in the springboard act.
Mrs Lennon sees no end to her circus, with plenty of young family members eager to take over the reins.
“The other circus owners are now in their 60s and 70s and their cats (lions) have died off. Their kids do not want to continue on as it is a 20-year commitment to look after the cats,” she said.
“I love the life, I love the travelling and meeting different people in each place we go to. It keeps all our family together.”
Stardust Circus is a traditional circus with four lions, 16 horses and ponies and seven monkeys featuring in the show. However, the use of circus animals has also created opposition in sections of the community.
The Lismore City Council will not allow circuses on council land and animal activist groups have mounted advertising campaigns against them.
Northern Rivers Community Legal Centre regional co-ordinator centre manager Angela Pollard believes circuses involving exotic animals should be banned.
“It's cruel that lions spend their lives being trucked around the country,” she said.
“I don't think animals performing tricks is the progressive way we should be going. We don't think there is anything wrong with humans and animals interacting, but it's the way they live their life on the road.”
Mrs Lennon conceded it was a bit of a battle sometimes.
“This is a traditional circus and we have tried to keep it like that for the majority who want to see it,” she said. “The minority that don't want to see it, it's not like the animals are hard done by. Just occasionally we find (animal liberation protesters). This area is one of the worst.
“As if we would ill-treat our animals. They are our life and they come first.”