March 23rd, 2012
CIRCUS owners who are due to soon pitch their big top in Geelong have angrily denied claims of animal cruelty.
Fifth-generation entertainer Jan Lennon, from Lennon Brothers Circus, said the allegations were totally without foundation.
Ms Lennon was responding to local animal activisits who accused her group of mistreating animals.
Activist Simon Jedreski said the creatures were "routinely beaten" to make them do tricks.
"They are kept in cramped cages and forced to perform night after night," he said.
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It sparked a strong reaction from Ms Lennon
"Our animals are trained on the reward method and suggestions we beat them into submission are an absolute fantasy," she said.
"This family run circus has been around for 115 years and with us the animals always come first."
Ms Lennon said the circus's big cats have a better life than they would have in a zoo.
"The lions like travelling, the different places, the different smells, they love to arrive in a new location," she said.
"They have the best of food, chicken breasts and beef."
Ms Lennon said the lions have exceptionally large exercise areas.
"Each enclosure is about 200 square metres, three times larger than the legal requirement," she said.
"The big cats just laze about and sleep about 20 hours a day."
The circus, which features three lions, horse, camels, llamas, geese and dogs and other animals, is scheduled to appear at Geelong Showgrounds from March 29 to April 15.
Another local activist, Georgina Brogden, said she was shocked to learn the circus was allowed to appear in the municipality.
"I do not endorse my council approving this or any other circus with animals," she said. "Animals should not be coerced into performing unnatural acts."
The city's general manager of recreation Dean Frost said the council had no authority over the operation of the circus.