Animals in circuses spend most of their time living and travelling in small cramped cages. When they are not in their cages, they are forced to carry out unnatural, inane tricks in loud, frightening circus tents. Their training is based on fear and punishment and not, as is often assumed, on ‘reward’. Abusive training tactics are often used such as whipping, tight collars, muzzles, electric prods, beatings, and food deprivation. Such training tactics are used because wild animals do not naturally do tricks such as standing on their heads, balancing, or jumping through rings.
In the ACT all circuses with performing animals must obtain a permit before they can perform (see s52 of the ACT's Animal Welfare Act 1992 (the Act)). A permit will not be granted if the circus troupe includes a bear, elephant, giraffe, primate, or wild cat (eg a lion), whether or not the animal will be used in the circus (see s55(2) of the Act).
Over 40 councils in Australia have banned exotic animal circuses from performing on council land. For a full list of councils see here. Unfortunately this does not include Queanbeyan NSW. Circus companies with wild animals can therefore get around the ACT’s ban by setting up just over the border in Queanbeyan.
For information about Animal Liberation ACT's campaign to end animal circuses in Queanbeyan, see here.
As with so many other animal welfare issues, much of Australia is lagging behind other countries when it comes to banning circuses with wild animals. Even the British Government has recently announced that wild animals will be banned from all circuses in the country by 2015. National, regional, and local governments in at least 30 other countries have also banned the use of wild, or all, animals in circuses. For more information see www.animalsaustralia.org/issues/circuses.php
The above footage shows a primate at the 2012 Stardust Circus in Queanbeyan
One of the 'performing' lions at the 2012 Stardust Circus in Queanbeyan.