AR-News: (New Zealand) Whip cracked over care of wild animals
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Fri Oct 17 15:12:39 EDT 2003
By ANNE BESTON
Animal rights groups have condemned proposed new rules on caring for circus
animals: they want an outright ban on the use of exotic animals.
Save Animals from Exploitation (Safe), the SPCA and the Animal Rights Legal
Advocacy Network (Arlan) said the code was watered-down, badly written and
would not improve the lot of circus animals.
"This is just tinkering at the edges," said Safe spokesman Gary Reese.
"They haven't improved the situation at all. These are animals that are
trained through punishment and deprivation. Exotic animals have no place in a
The new code has been issued by the National Animal Welfare Advisory
Committee (Nawac) and is open for public submissions until next month.
It covers minimum standards for food, housing, training and socialisation for
exotic animals such as monkeys, lions and elephants, and domestic animals
such as horses and dogs.
The code specifies animals in a circus must have a "behaviour enrichment
programme". Lions must "be allowed direct interaction with other pride members"
but if elephants can't see or touch other elephants, then other "companion
animals" such as horses will do.
But Tony Radcliffe, the keeper of the only circus elephant in New Zealand,
told the Holmes show this week that the elephant interacted better with humans
than other animals.
His employer, Whirling Brothers Travelling Circus, has had Jumbo since 1978
and he had looked after her for 25 years. He said she was happy playing with
Mr Radcliffe said there were no elephants around to partner with Jumbo and to
get another one from overseas would cost a couple of hundred thousand dollars
The code says that monkeys and apes must not be kept in isolation except as a
last resort due to aggression or death and the circus owner must "make all
reasonable endeavours" to get another primate if one dies.
Sick animals should not be in training and animals should not be transported
for longer than 24 hours unless being transported internationally.
Animals must have an area where they can retire from public view and have
access to shade, water, appropriate food and clean, dry bedding.
Nawac was set up under the 1999 Animal Welfare Act and is made up of farmers,
veterinarians, animal welfare representatives and scientists. Its committee
issues animal welfare codes on things like religious slaughter or broiler
Its codes must be approved by Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton and are not
legally enforceable, although breaches can be used in animal welfare court cases.
Arlan spokeswoman Deidre Bourke said her group had little hope that the "best
practice" recommendations in the code would be policed or enforced.
SPCA national president Peter Blomkamp said his organisation's Nawac
representative had "done his bit" to try to get exotic animals in circuses banned
While that had failed, the SPCA would continue to lobby individual councils
to ban circuses in their area. He said the Nelson City Council was one council
that had done that
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