PATRONS at the McLaren Circus were greeted by a group of demonstrators carrying anti-animal cruelty placards on Tuesday. The protesters consisted of 20 women and children who braved the wet Bay weather in aid of animal rights.
Karien van Schalkwyk, 32, said she was there to represent the animals as they could not speak for themselves.
“No person’s cheap entertainment is worth the confinement of lions and tigers and animal handlers flicking whips towards these animals,” Van Schalkwyk said.
The women demonstrate each day in small groups to avoid having to get official permission to protest and to reach more people.
Circus-goers watched as the demonstrators handed out leaflets explaining why people should not support circuses. Some stopped to hear the women out while others ignored them.
Ashley Head and Zoë le Roux, both 11, were among the younger protesters yesterday.
“Animals should be free to roam in the wild,” the young animal lovers said.
Fiona Richard, 52, said she was there to create awareness and to advocate that permits should not be granted for animals to be used in circuses.
“I strongly object to seeing animals living in captivity. It can’t be humane.”
Circus owner David McLaren said the protesters had no permit to demonstrate outside the circus and were an annual sighting.
“These demonstrators are intimidating my customers and those who love the circus and want to see the animals,” McLaren said.
“Every year when we come to Port Elizabeth we are greeted by the same protesters, so much so that we even know their names by now,” he said.
But McLaren insisted that the circus complied with all safety regulations and said the animals were in excellent condition. “Everything is above-board here. We are complying with all the animal laws in South Africa and we are against animal cruelty,” he said.
The Herald Citizen of the Year finalist Linda-Louise Swain, 54, also demonstrated, saying that the most successful circus in the world, Cirque Du Soleil, did not have animal acts
“The rest of the world is doing likewise and South Africa needs to do the same.
“We don’t have to see animals being tortured for our own amusement,” Swain said. – Nomazima Nkosi