‘See for yourself’: Stardust Circus assures animal standards

AFFECTIONATE: Trainer Matt Ezekial inside the enclosure, hugging one of the six performing lions that Stardust Circus tours with. Photo: PHIL BLATCH
AFFECTIONATE: Trainer Matt Ezekial inside the enclosure, hugging one of the six performing lions that Stardust Circus tours with. Photo: PHIL BLATCH

THE inclusion of performing animals in a circus comes with controversy, but Stardust Circus wants everyone to know it’s animals are being cared for.

Stardust Circus will perform at Orange Showgrounds from Thursday, February 15 to Sunday, February 25 and it is one of only two travelling circuses in Australia that features exotic animals.

It has monkeys, dogs, pigs, goats, ponies and lions.

Various animal welfare groups protest the use of animals in circuses, claiming they don’t provide a suitable environment for animals, that exotic animals become stressed and are exposed to fear and punishment as training methods.

Stardust Circus’s Ringmaster Adam St James is angered by the constant attacks circuses with animals are under, and his own isn’t immune to it. 

Stardust staff regularly field calls where they are yelled at, with some callers going as 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’s animal enclosures exceed the size dictated by the code, 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 or heated depending on the season.

When it comes to training, Stardust uses positive reinforcement, which involves food as a reward, while animals that become too old to perform are retired to a property in Sydney. 

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.

“They're welcome to come down through the daylight hours to see the animals from behind the fences.”

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