ERA awards elephant handler $26,000
Wednesday Dec 22, 2010
An elephant handler was sacked after being told that his long-time charge, Jumbo, was "lost", only to read in a newspaper the animal had been given to the RSPCA.
Tony Ratcliffe, who ran Whirling Bros Circus and looked after Jumbo for about 30 years, has been awarded more than $26,000 after he took Australian-based Loritz Bros circus owner Harry Weber to the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) for unjustified dismissal.
Jumbo, an African elephant, attracted attention last year when animal welfare activists claimed she was suffering at the hands of the circus, allegations rejected by Loritz Bros.
According to the ERA decision, released today, Mr Ratcliffe retired from circus ownership in 2008 and arranged to sell Jumbo to Loritz Bros for $70,000 and work for them looking after her. He would be paid $1500 in the hand each week.
However, there was no written employment agreement and once the circus started touring Mr Ratcliffe became concerned no assistant elephant handler had been taken on, as arranged, so he could take a couple of days off each week.
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