THE inclusion of performing animals in a circus comes with controversy, but Stardust Circus wants everyone to know its animals are being cared for.
A quick internet search of the phrase “Ban animals in circuses” will bring up information on various groups protesting the issue.
They cite a number of reasons for a ban, including the inability to create a suitable environment for animals, that exotic animals become stressed, and the use of fear and punishment to train.
Stardust Circus is currently in Bathurst and it is one of only two travelling circuses in Australia that features exotic animals.
It has monkeys, dogs, pigs, goats, ponies and lions.
Ringmaster Adam St James, understandably, is angered by the constant attacks on circuses with animals and his own isn’t immune to it.
Stardust staff regularly have callers yell at them, with some callers going so far as to make death threats.
Mr St James said “radical animal groups” are a big part of the problem.
“The problem is that there is a lot of information put out to the public that is not relevant to Australia,” he said.
“Australia has the strictest regulations when it comes to keeping circus animals out of any country in the world.
“We are heavily policed in this country … the majority of the places we go, we get inspected in almost every town and the field inspectors from the RSPCA have never found any problem with our animals, and have, in fact, always commended us on the condition of our animals and their living quarters.”
He said Australia also has a very strict code of practice for keeping animals in a circus, which was put together by multiple organisations.
Stardust Circus is very transparent in its operations.
The enclosures put together for the animals exceed the size dictated by the code of practice, animals have access to water and there is shade provided.
In the lion enclosure, the six lions have access to their trailer, which is air-conditioned and heated depending on the season.
When it comes to training, Stardust uses positive reinforcement, which involves food as a reward.
Animals that become too old to perform are retired to a property in Sydney owned by Stardust, where they are cared for.
Mr St James said Stardust is always happy to speak to people with any concerns.
"Don't believe everything you hear; come down and see for yourself," he said.
"The animals are on display to the public all day. They're welcome to come down any time through the daylight hours to see the animals from behind the fences.”