Dust up over circus visit

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Stardust Circus is due to visit St Marys later this month

Stardust Circus is coming to St Marys but not everyone’s ready to snap up tickets and celebrate.

Animal activist group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), says the Circus visit shouldn’t go ahead.

The group, which has more than 6.5 million members, is calling on Penrith Council to ban exotic animal shows.

In 2016, Council backflipped on a decision to prohibit circuses on Council land after eight Councillors voted to revoke the original decision, which was welcomed by many in the community.

PETA spokesperson, Emma Hurst, said Penrith Council needed to “wake up”.

“It’s impossible to understand why Council took a step backwards. However, it still has a chance to protect the animals from constant confinement by re-introducing the ban,” she said.

PETA operates under the principle that animals are not to be eaten, worn, experimented on, used for entertainment, or abused in any way.

Their main concern for Stardust’s animals is the way they are trained and transported.

“Animals in circuses are denied everything that’s natural and important to them, which leads many to develop neurotic behaviour like bar-biting, circling or pacing, or self-mutilation,” she said.

But Stardust Circus ringmaster, Adam St James, said this is simply not the case.

“Australia leads the way when it comes to the welfare of circus animals,” he said.

“We have an incredibly strict code of practice that we must adhere to, not to mention we are also licensed by the State Government and Department of Primary Industries.”

Operating since 1893, the circus has never had a conviction of animal cruelty and claim that their yard size exceeds what is required in the Australian code of practice.

“The animals are our number one concern and we’re around Sydney, so the travel times are nowhere near as bad as these organisations think they are,” Mr St James said.

“I wish they would target genuine animal cruelty and not just general animal captivity.”

Penrith Council meanwhile stands by its 2016 backflip.

“The motion was assessed by the full membership of Council who rescinded the decision to ban circuses on Council land. This was in part due to circuses being regulated at a State level through various acts and regulations and agencies such as the RSPCA and the NSW Department of Primary Industries,” a Council spokesperson said.

The show is set to commence on Friday, August 24 and will run until Sunday, September 9.

Nicola Barton is the Weekender’s general news journalist, incorporating political affairs and crime.

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