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SPCA moves to block circus

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has written to the Minister of Environment to express concerns over plans to have a circus with captive animals come to Bermuda.

DNA Entertainment plans to hold shows on April 14-16, entitled ?Animal Extravaganza?. Advertisements for the show have pictures of tigers and elephants on them.

This is not the first time the SPCA has taken a stand against circuses. In 2002, when the Tarzan Zerbini Circus came to the Island, they spoke out against the company and wrote letters to the Minister of Environment.

This week, Theresa Ince, SPCA shelter manager, said the organisation has concerns about the welfare of the animals in the circus. She said the group feels it is inhumane to keep animals such as elephants, dogs and white tigers locked up in small cages for the majority of their lives.

Ms Ince said that permission has not yet been granted to DNA Entertainment but the SPCA is worried because the same company was given permission to bring the 2002 circus to Bermuda.

?We are concerned that, despite our objections last time, the Government still considers it acceptable to allow a circus with animals to come to Bermuda,? she said.

Requests left with the Ministry for information about this year?s planned circus visit were not returned.

In 2002, SPCA chairman and veterinary surgeon Dr. Andrew Madeiros said circuses serve no purpose.

?We don?t feel that in this day and age it is appropriate,? he said. ?We don?t see circuses as educational events, they are purely entertainment. This circus would have got as many people along if it had just had really good human acts. It would also have cost them half the money it did to get the circus here.?

SPCA?s campaign to end animal circuses coming to the Island was picked up by the international Captive Animals? Protection Society and is included on their website, www.captiveanimals.org/circuses.

The Tarzan Zerbini Circus, which DNA Entertainment brought to Bermuda last time, has a poor track record in terms of complying with regulations in North America.

Animal rights activists, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), mentions the circus? failure to meet minimum requirements on their website. The three page list includes several instances where the US Department of Agriculture cited the circus for failing to provide a veterinary care programme and medical records, failing to provide minimum space for the animals and failing to properly maintain transport vehicles.

The website also mentions that a trainer was trampled to death by elephants in 2002 and that elephants were quarantined in Ontario in 2000 for coming into prolonged contact with a tuberculosis-positive elephant. In 1999 a worker admitted that elephants had been badly beaten by drunk trainers.

Ms Ince said the SPCA is not sure if the same circus is being brought to Bermuda this time. Attempts to contact the entertainment group were not successful. She said that if permission is granted, the SPCA will launch an education campaign to inform people of the poor manner in which animals are treated in circuses. She hopes that this campaign will encourage people not to buy tickets to the event.