The McLaren Circus drew the usual group of animal-rights protesters during its recent visit to Table View.
On Saturday, about 100 people protested on the corner of Pentz Drive and Blaauwberg Road and there were also outpourings on social media by both circus haters and lovers.
The big top was pitched at the Table View Football Club from Wednesday March 6 to Sunday March 10.
The protesters say using animals in circus acts is cruel and should be stopped.
Protester Andy Moller said the practice was “slavery” and should be illegal
“I don’t see the reason why we still use animals in a circus for people’s entertainment.”On Facebook, Milnerton resident Mike Wilson said anyone who cared about animals rights should boycott the circus.
“Still having big cats and other animals living in cages and using them for people’s entertainment is unacceptable.”
Jared Prior, posting on Facebook, claimed to be a long time friend of McLaren Circus owner Duncan McLaren and said the circus’s animals were well looked after.
“People like to have tantrums and find something to protest. Duncan, well done mate! You should offer these bored, misinformed humans a chance to experience it from the other side.”
Chairperson of Beauty Without Cruelty South Africa, Toni Brockhoven, said the circus’s method of animal training was irrelevant.
“The animals should not be there in the first place. The SPCA does its job by doing inspections, and other than confirming the animals are fed, healthy and have shelter there is nothing they can do, because while the existence of performing animals is reprehensible, it is legal,” she said.
Mr McLaren said Beauty Without Cruelty had been protesting against his circus for more than a decade, and had been doing so every Saturday throughout the Cape Town tour.
He said all the animals were healthy, happy and in excellent condition.
“They are transported safely from venue to venue. They are housed safely free from poachers and harm and they are cared for like stars. They receive love, attention and the best veterinary care. They are all trained using positive reinforcement and receive treats and love. My animals at the circus are also closely monitored by the NSPCA and SPCA in every single town or venue the circus visits. The NSPCA/SPCA inspect my circus performances and backstage handling of my animals too,” he said.
Ms Brockhoven said: “With the incredible technology we have today, we don’t have to see a sad caricature of a wild animal doing tricks. With CGI, documentaries, animation and holographic technology, you can have everything you want, without using these animals as prisoners for profit.”
The circus is due to visit Namibia in June, but 1800 people have signed an online petition against that happening, while a 600 people have signed a counter petition.