23 July 2004
BRUSSELS – Circus owners in Belgium have reacted angrily to a proposed government ban on performances by wild animals.
Leading members of the circus community have warned the move will sound a death knell for the traditional circus and on Friday were preparing to take their case to the Belgian King, Albert II.
“A circus without wild animals is not a circus,” said circus representative Alexandre Bouglione.
“The public come to the performance to see the wild animals. Modern circuses that do not have animals are all subsidised because they are commercially unviable.”
Bouglione staunchly defended the reputation of the circus community for taking good care of its animals.
“We look after our animals. If they are well-fed then they do not need a lot of space and we are never violent towards them.”
Circus owners are gathered in Brussels on Friday to pen a protest to the king, urging him not to sign the royal decree that would ban circuses from keeping wild animals.
Bouglione insisted that the royal family were fans of the circus and regular Big Top visitors.
The royal decree was proposed by Animal Welfare Minister Rudy Demotte in response to claims that no circus was meeting legal requirements.
Strict rules are in place governing the size of cages, bathing for elephants and tigers and frequent movement.
Demotte believes the psychological and physical wellbeing of many animals may be being harmed.
Animals are being manipulated by being taken away from their natural environment and having to behave like machines, he said.
“This gives the public, and especially young people, an erroneous view of animals,” he said.
A transitional period has been foreseen to allow circuses to adapt and to prevent the unnecessary killing of the animals concerned.
Meanwhile, seventy communes in Belgium have already outlawed the presence of wild animals in circuses on their territory.
[Copyright: Expatica 2004]
Subject: Belgian News