Circuses aim to maintain animal magic

John Le Mare is the Executive Secretary of the Circus Federation of Australia.

A SMALL but spirited debate is raging around Noosa over the moral and ethical obligations of circuses when handling animals.
To find out more about this sensitive topic, Noosa Today put five questions to Circus Federation of Australia executive secretary John Le Mare.
Mr Le Mare lives in Tewantin and advises the Australian Federal Government on matters of circus animal welfare.
1. What is the standard of animal care like in circuses today?
Excellent. Government regulations carefully cover the welfare of animals in circuses and while they are travelling.
Each state has its own regulations but, basically, they are very similar.
Circuses are subject to inspection by various animal welfare bodies at any time, without warning. In most cases this involves the RSPCA.
The RSPCA have never (at least not in the last 10 years or so) had to take a circus to court on animal welfare or other matters.
Details can be found on the website of the Circus Federation of Australia,
2. Were practices unfavourable in the past in relation to animals, and how has this changed over time?
Yes. Some of the past practises, such as jumping through rings of fire, would never be allowed today.
Nor do we allow the use of whips. (NB think of Melbourne Cup Day when much of Australia stops work to watch this race in which each horse is whipped at least 12 times!
Everyone has different ideas of welfare in the usage of various animals in various activities).
3. What has the public reaction to animal circuses been like in Queensland and around the world?
Australia Circuses with animals are so popular that the enterprises do not need, nor receive, any government or taxpayer support.
Australian circuses without animals, which are also excellent, are insufficiently popular to survive on box office receipts and need annual government/taxpayer support.
4. Do animals still have a place in the circus and how would you address those with concerns?
I think this is answered by questions three above.
However, anyone who is worried, let them see for themselves and make their own decisions.
They can just rock up to a circus at any time and ask the management to see the animal enclosures – there is nothing to hide.
They do not have to pay to go to an actual performance if they do not want.
5. What were your thoughts of the Hudson Circus, who brought two zebras to Maroochydore recently?
Hudson’s Circus is an excellent enterprise with very high standards of animal welfare.
The zebras are a normal species of animal used in circus performance around the world. Hudson’s are also members of the Circus Federation of Australia.