To STOP a circus performing with animals in the middle of a residential area in town.
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Good day Executive Mayor Lobese, Mayoral staff, Mr. David Friedman & Staff of the Bitou Municipality,
I would like to express my utter shock and dismay that the municipality has permitted McLaren Circus to have a show, exhibit and exploit animals in our community. In a town where we have first class animal sanctuaries, and where animal welfare is at the heart of the community we should be setting an example when it comes to the welfare and conservation of wildlife.
In an ever increasing number of Towns and countries, there is an outright ban on performing circus animals as it has been proven that not only is it inhumane to have animals live in these conditions, but also in order to get the animals perform in such acts, these animals are subjected to the worst forms of animal cruelty. No lion or tiger willingly performs tricks for human amusement without undergoing severe suffering and punishment to achieve obedience. Despite circuses claiming that the animals live in excellent conditions, this is simply not true. They live and travel in atrocious conditions.
Bitou should be one of the municipalities where animal welfare and conservation of animals should be highlighted as a major concern. I believe that in no other municipality in South Africa, including some in the very big cities, there is not nearly such a concentration of so many wonderful animal sanctuaries, rehabilitation centres, human/animal encounters and game reserves. We are truly blessed. These sanctuaries have to abide by some very strict rules and regulations set by Cape Nature and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries - of how these animals and their environments should be maintained. I know they abide by these rules and regulations and consider it very good and ethical animal welfare practice. Unfortunately Circuses somehow do not need to abide by these rules and regulations, which is a mystery to all animal welfare promoters and conservationists.
Bearing in mind the existing CLEAR rules and regulations, the following are concerns that I feel should be raised:
1. Are the enclosures adequate in size for these animals? (Cape Nature recommends a 2000 square meter area for 1-4 Lions in captivity), and it needs to be comprehensively secure as per national animal captivity legislation and regulations.
2. Are humans safe from these animals and vice versa? Has adequate provision been made to counter possible escapes, and is there a contingency plan should an escape occur? Will humans be safe and will the animal be safely recaptured?
3. Have the property owners surrounding the area - set aside for the event, been properly scoped and asked if they are satisfied that the necessary precautions with regards to safety, security during shows, and possible pollution and/or and damage have been taken?
4. The Bitou Municipality By-law relating to Roads and Streets, section 25 and 26, caution against wild and dangerous animals and public safety. Is Bitou Municipality absolutely satisfied that the safety of their community is not at stake?
5. Is the area demarcated for the event adequate in size and infrastructure to accommodate such an event - has the area been zoned for such an event as it has it been zoned for other sporting events?
6. Is there enough parking at the event away from the animals?
7. How many people can the event house?
8. Is there a general emergency management plan for the event, and has it been seen by the relevant decision-makers at Bitou Municipality?
Most Circuses using animals, including this particular circus, claims that they use animals to educate the visiting public about animals, their natural behaviours, leading their statement with “not everyone can go and see an animal in the wild”.
Firstly, most of the animals used do not naturally occur in our country and secondly, how can tigers and lions sitting on chairs, jumping through hoops, sit and lay down under threatened commands, display any wild animal characteristics in such an unnatural environment? This provides NO education to the public. In fact, all the public and especially our children will learn is to laugh at animals, view them in a derogatory manner and treat them with disrespect.
We are therefore vehemently objecting to this decision and appeal to the municipality and its leaders, councilors and mayoral staff to repeal its decision and retract the permission given.
In actual fact, we demand that this event be cancelled and the permission given (without resident input) for it, immediately be withdrawn for the welfare of the animals.
Stephanie Shrosbree & Paul van der Schyff
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