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Saturday, November 19, 2011


Circus emphatically denies mistreating kangaroos

BY ANTONIE BOESSENKOOL Californian staff writer

aboessenkool@bakersfield.com Friday, Nov 18 2011
A Piccadilly Circus representative told The Californian Friday that its boxing kangaroo act is not a boxing match between a kangaroo and a human, as has been claimed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
The circus has been touring through California for the last two weeks, prompting PETA to challenge the kangaroo act.
PETA said Thursday that it filed a complaint with the California Fish and Game Department to stop the Piccadilly Circus from operating its Rocky the Boxing Kangaroo event in California. The animal-rights organization said the act, featuring a boxing kangaroo called Rocky, breaks state law by causing Rocky unnecessary torment.
In the act, Rocky is dressed in boxing shorts and gloves and is placed in a boxing ring with his owner, who "antagonizes the animal into defending himself," PETA said in a press release.
But Cuinn Griffin, promotional director for Piccadilly, said PETA's interpretation of the act is inaccurate.
"We do not put someone in the ring to fight the kangaroo," Griffin said in an email. "It's not a boxing match. There is no violence whatsoever. These PETA reps have never seen the act."
PETA said Rocky's owner, Javier Martinez, has been cited by the U.S. Agriculture Department for violating the Animal Welfare Act and is operating the act in California without a permit. He's also breaking state law that prohibits combat between animals and humans, PETA said.
PETA added that at least two kangaroos used in the act have died, one from a bacterial disease that can be caused by stress, overcrowding and poor hygiene. It added that Martinez knew the animal was sick but forced him to keep performing until he died.
But, Griffin said Martinez "has no violations and has never been cited."
Nevertheless, the California Fish and Game Department has inspected the circus twice at appearances in northern California but "found no kangaroo present."
"On both occasions, everything was in order," said John Baker, assistant chief for the central enforcement district of the department, on Thursday.
Baker said the circus was denied its application for a kangaroo permit in California. It did have permits for the other animals it was exhibiting, he said.
But Griffin said "We have not been denied any permits," when asked if Piccadilly was denied a permit for a kangaroo in California.
The department sent a warden to Piccadilly's Bakersfield stop on Thursday night for another inspection, which also turned up no kangaroos, said Janice Mackey, the public information officer for the California Fish and Game Department's central region.
"We went out there a third time and no kangaroos were present" at the Bakersfield show, Mackey said, adding that all of Piccadilly's permits "were in order."
But, in a strange twist, "The warden did see someone in a kangaroo outfit that was attempting to box with another carnival worker," Mackey said. It's unclear whether that was an act for an audience or on the sidelines "for practice" she said. "I don't know why anybody would want to watch that."
Griffin confirmed that this was the circus' act at the Bakersfield performance.
Though the circus "can do the kangaroo boxing act in other states," in California, where animal welfare laws are stricter, it cannot, Mackey said.
Griffin said the act does "perform all across the United States."

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