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Aaron McKenna: Animal circuses are a shameful cruelty that you should avoid funding Hopefully in 100 years we’ll look back on animals in circuses like we now do about Victorian ‘freak show’ performances using disabled people.   

Sat 9.8.2014
           Aaron McKenna                                         

THE WATERFORD FIRE service had to be called out to Duffy’s Circus during the week to provide water for sea lions after an unexpected problem with water pressure on the site in Tramore. The fire brigade filled the tank the sea lions are kept in and the show can roll on, presumably to draw in large crowds of August holidaymakers.

There was no animal welfare issue at any time, said an inspector from Waterford Animal Welfare. Animals weren’t short of drinking water and the three sea lions got into their tank promptly.

With all due respect to Waterford Animal Welfare, that is missing the point of ‘animal welfare’ by a country mile. As ISPCA CEO Dr Andrew Kelly told this publication, the incident was further evidence that “circuses cannot provide a suitable environment for wild animals”.

Or, in other words, there is a place where sea lions rarely have difficulty with water pressure. It’s called the sea.

Circuses or other venues that use wild animals in their performances are the type of thing that, hopefully, people in 100 years will look back on about the same way as we consider Victorian ‘freak show’ performances using disabled people. The entire process of what goes into getting a wild animal to play with a ball or perform other tricks is cruel and unusual when you break it down.

Training wild animals
Be it a whale, a sea lion, a monkey or an elephant these animals must be captured in the wild, or bred into captivity. They are kept in tiny spaces compared to what they are used to and designed for in the wild. Typically, circus animals are trained through a mixture of repetition or starvation at the ‘humane’ end of things, and with skin-piercing bull hooks at the other. They are subjected to stressful and abnormal situations on a regular basis. Apart from performing in a giant tent, the animals are regularly put onto the back of trucks and driven around. Not something you’re likely to find an elephant herd doing in the wilds of Africa.

I have no doubt that the likes of Duffy’s Circus treat their animals humanely and care for them as best they can on the road. But there is no guarantee that the animals they have purchased were not captured and trained in the most inhumane fashion imaginable. One of the source markets for trained elephants is India, where the bull hook is a favoured method of training.

Even if Duffy’s are keeping the animals well, the fact remains that three adult sea lions are living in a blue tarp swimming pool. Sea lions typically cruise in water at 17kmh, and can burst up to 40kmh. Three of them stuck in a tank together aren’t going anywhere fast. Outside of circuses, killer whales swim 120km to 160km per day, a little more than the distance between Dublin and Waterford. A killer whale in Seaworld would have to swim around the tank in a circle 1,600 times to get the same range.

Be it a travelling animal circus you meet on your holiday in the south east or somewhere like Loro Parque in the Canaries, where killer whale shows are popular, you are contributing to an industry of misery by paying to see a show.

Conservation and study
Animals are kept in captivity for a number of reasons. Many zoos and aquariums play an important role in the conservation and study of endangered species. Farms play host to domesticated livestock that feed a good proportion of humanity. Circuses and entertainment venues have no practical function other than to provide a good talking point and a few pictures from a day out.
Unlike a human performer, an animal doesn’t head home after a stressful or busy day dancing around the arena. They don’t crack open a beer and watch their favourite programme. They’re not even like domesticated pets, such as a dog who has a loving bond with its owner or that plays an important function like aiding a disabled person.

They’re wild animals that are sociable and intelligent enough to be trained, locked up in a cage and prodded till they perform meaningless tricks.

There have been steps taken by some consciences officials to stop this. South Dublin County Council will no longer allow circuses that use animals on public land. On the other hand, the Arts Council and Meath County Council gave a grant of €20,000 to Duffy’s Circus this year under their annual programming grant.

Money talks
Ultimately, however, the power to stop animal exploitation like this rests with consumers. Some circuses have dropped animal performances, partly in response to consumer pressure.
If you find a circus setting up near you and it uses animals, please don’t go. If you’re in the Canaries or Florida or anywhere else a Sea Life Park is found, just don’t. If the animals are forced out to do a show, perform tricks and entertain then you are furthering animal cruelty by paying to keep it running.

There are lots of other things you can do to pass the time, none of which involve locking wild animals up in cages or putting them in swimming pools.

Aaron McKenna is a businessman and a columnist for He is also involved in activism in his local area. You can find out more about him at or follow him on Twitter @aaronmckenna. To read more columns by Aaron click here.
  Sheep ship deaths 'not covered up'

The Department of Agriculture has denied covering up the circumstances surrounding the mass death of more than 4000 sheep on a voyage to the Middle East.

Most of the sheep died on an afternoon of extreme heat 15 days after leaving Fremantle on board the Livestock Shipping Services Pty Ltd–operated Bader III.

Documents obtained under Freedom of Information show the exporter then took 13 days to officially notify the DoA that the mortality rate on the horror voyage exceeded reportable limits.

Australian laws governing the issuing of export licences, require exporters to notify authorities as soon as possible or within 12 hours.

 Sheep ship deaths not covered up  Sheep being loaded onto the Bader III in Fremantle. Picture: File 

Other documents show the on-board veterinarian employed by LSS did not provide daily reports to authorities as required under the laws.

The DoA, which made no adverse findings against LSS after investigating the incidents, rejected claims from Animals Australia that it covered up the reporting delay and the lack of daily updates.

The official DoA report did not mention either issue. It also failed to name the exporter or the Bader III, which is understood to have left Fremantle late yesterday with more livestock for the Middle East.

The DoA and LSS remained publicly silent on the death of 4179 of the 75,508 sheep on the vessel last year for more than four months, and only commented after the incident was revealed by
The West Australian in January.

FOI documents from September 6 last year show the on-board veterinarian reported the sheep were “travelling well” but the Bader III had started “zigzagging” to improve ventilation.

Hours later thousands were dead and the ship had docked at Doha in Qatar.

The ship spent three days unloading livestock in Doha with dead sheep littering the decks. Australian authorities received no hint that anything was wrong.

The ship was back at sea on September 11 when it was noted in the daily report that “overall mortality may exceed two per cent”. This daily report and those for the days that followed were not
received by the DoA until September 16.

After dumping the carcasses at sea and taking six days to cover the short distance between Doha and the United Arab Emirates, the Bader III docked and the remaining livestock was unloaded.

LSS notified DoA of high morality rate on September 19. On September 20, LSS received an email from a senior DoA official which spelt out the laws regarding export licences and asked a series of questions about the conduct of the voyage.

LSS said it complied fully and in good faith with the requirements of the DoA investigation.

“The investigation into the incident identified that an extreme weather event caused heat stress leading to the reportable mortality incident,” it said in a statement.

“LSS has adopted the recommendations and findings from the investigation in order to improve its heat-stress risk management.”

Animals Australia accused DoA of a chronic failure to properly regulate the live export industry."

Spokeswoman Lisa Chalk said heat stress was a shocking way for an animal to die and the sheep would have literally been “cooked alive”.

“The Australian Government was kept in the dark for nearly two weeks while the disaster was unfolding despite the exporter’s legal obligations to report the high number of deaths immediately,” she said.

  Brad Thompson The West Australian  July 31, 2014,

Exporter breaks animal cruelty rules again

One of Western Australia's biggest livestock exporters could lose its licence to operate after being found once again to have breached animal welfare laws.

In the latest incident, Jordanian-owned Livestock Shipping Services (LSS) is linked to shocking treatment of sheep and cattle in Gaza and the United Arab Emirates.

The Department of Agriculture investigators found LSS committed one minor and two major breaches of animal welfare rules.   
    Cattle on a livestock export ship height=227 Photo: Companies which breach cruelty regulations are placing their live export licences in jeopardy.

One of the findings handed down yesterday involved cattle having their eyes gouged and shooting cattle's legs from under them.

It's not the first time LSS has been caught up in serious breaches of the ESCAS animal welfare system.

Perhaps the most significant was last year when more than 4,000 sheep died from heat stress onboard on a voyage to the Middle East.

By law, Agriculture Department officials are required to consider an animal exporter's track record when it next applies for an export permit.

Livestock Shipping Services says it will co-operate with any recommendations made by the department, and provided the following in a written statement to ABC Rural.

LSS is committed to ensuring best practice in its shipping operations.

LSS will continue to cooperate with the Department of Agriculture's recommendations and ensure implementation of any recommendations be made immediately.

In response to non-compliance issues recorded in the UAE: LSS has provided monthly reconciliations of the supply chain since January 2014 and no major issues have been noted since then.

In response to non-compliance issues recorded in Israel: LSS acknowledges animal handling issues during the unloading of livestock. It has noted that the
individuals in the video were not members of the MV Ghena’s crew or LSS staff. LSS advises that it is the policy of the MV Ghena crew that at no time are officers or crew allowed to stress, hurt or harm livestock at any time during the voyage including unloading. The Department has referred the matter to the local authorities.

In response to non-compliance issues recorded in Gaza: Livestock Shipping Services (LSS) formally advised the Department of Agriculture (DoA) on 5th November 2013 that the company had concerns relating to the integrity of its supply chain in Gaza. Following this, LSS immediately took a number of steps to deal with the possible issues.
The last shipment of livestock exported directly to Gaza was in mid-October 2013. No further shipments have been exported directly to Gaza.

  WA Country Hour  By Olivia Garnett

 Mariner vet slams live exports     

The former merchant mariner piloted a 50,000-tonne livestock vessel in 1983, which was bound for the Middle East, and served as a vet on a livestock vessel in 1982 on a three-week journey to Saudi Arabia.
Now a horse specialist, Mr Kerkenezov said conditions livestock were forced to endure on the long-haul voyages at sea, and the livestock's treatment on arrival, made the experience hellish for animals.
"The truth is that there is a very dark side to this trade and there is no way that live animal export can be ethical," he wrote in an article published last month in the Sydney University journal Control and Therapy.
       PETER KERKENEZOV: The truth is that there is a very dark side to this trade and there is no way that live animal export can be ethical.  PETER KERKENEZOV: The truth is that there is a very dark side to this trade and there is no way that live animal export can be ethical.   
The first leg of their journey to the dinner plate involved a gruelling voyage on relatively poorly equipped vessels staffed by foreign crews, which were rarely captained by an Australian, he wrote.

 "In many instances the ventilation is grossly inadequate and heat stress is an ongoing issue in equatorial zones," Mr Kerkenezov wrote.

 "Animal-based indicators and clinical evidence of disease obtained from veterinary examination, such as excessive panting, coughing, cleanliness, lameness, demeanour, injuries, skin lesions,
nasal discharge, and diarrhoea, provide reliable signs that the welfare of the animals on board a ship is severely impaired."

 Mr Kerkenezov cited photos documenting "repeat violations" of the Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock.

 Only trips of more than 10 days required the services of a vet, some of whose employment was terminated "because they submitted disapproving voyage reports".

 He described as a "sham" investigations by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, given they were responsible for both promoting and investigating the trade.

 As a substitute for live export, Mr Kerkenezov has called for an increase in the chilled meat exports, which combines jobs in processing on home soil as well as total control over animal welfare.

 "Australian boxed meat has a shelf life of four months and is the most efficient means of sending meat overseas," he wrote.

Hamish Broome | 25th Jul 2014 7:45 AM

 New cruelty cases hit exporter   

    The future operations of one of WA's biggest live export companies were under a cloud last night after Federal authorities found it again breached animal welfare rules.

One of the findings against Livestock Shipping Services handed down yesterday involves shocking footage of cattle having their eyes gouged and legs shot out from under them in Gaza.

Department of Agriculture investigators found LSS committed one minor and two major breaches of export laws over incidents involving sheep and cattle in Gaza and the United Arab Emirates.

Two months ago, the company was hit with a critical non-compliance ruling over incidents in Jordan. That came on top of a major non-compliance finding 12 months ago and the heat-related deaths of more than 4000 sheep LSS exported on a voyage to the Middle East in September. 

New cruelty cases hit exporter  New cruelty cases hit exporter 

Federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce and his department refused to answer key questions yesterday about the Jordanian-owned company's operations.

Federal laws require DoA officials to consider the LSS track record when it next applies for a permit to export animals.

Speaking after the findings against LSS in May, DoA deputy secretary Phillip Glyde would not rule out cancelling export licences if breaches of laws to protect animal welfare continued.

DoA stopped approving cattle exports to Gaza in November but Australian cattle still flow into the war-torn area from Israel.

Lisa Chalk, of Animals Australia, said the findings that nine cattle were outside approved facilities did not reflect the scale of abuse. "All cattle exported to Gaza, numbering in the thousands, have
met horrendously cruel deaths," she said.

Australian Livestock Exporters Council chief Alison Penfold said all members were expected to comply with regulations.

LSS would not comment on the latest findings.

Brad Thompson The West Australian  July 25, 2014, 2:08 am
Further Serious Welfare Issues Alleged at New Zealand Pig Farm

02 July 2014  NEW ZEALAND -

The country's pig industry is under fire after a TV investigation into conditions at a pig farm near Christchurch. As a result, one animal rights group is calling for a ban on farrowing crates.

An animal rights group believes shocking footage showing squalid and cruel conditions at a Christchurch pig farm is "just the tip of the iceberg", reports Stuff.

The pork industry is under fire after TVNZ investigation into a Christchurch pig farm.

The footage, filmed earlier this year, showed severe overcrowding of the pigs, with sows in a farrowing crate so small that her newborn piglets were squashed to death, according to the report.

Other piglets lay dying next to their helpless mother, while other animals had infected eyes and obvious sores. It also showed a dead pig that had been left to rot among live pigs and dozens of rats running over the animals.

Animals right group, SAFE, says the Government had failed these animals and called for a ban on farrowing crates.

SAFE's head of campaigns Mandy Carter said activists from Farmwatch visited the farm last year and filmed the animals living in squalid, cruel conditions. The footage was referred to SAFE, which laid a complaint with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

She said significant non-compliance with the pig welfare code was found by MPI inspectors and a number of pigs were in such bad shapes they had to be killed immediately.

A few months later, MPI declared that improvements had been made and the farm now complied with the code. MPI promised to undertake regular monitoring to ensure the ongoing welfare of the animals, Ms Carter said.

She continued: "And in April this year, the activists decided to visit the farm again and what they found was even worse."

Animal welfare laws were weak and were failing to improve standards of factory farming, she said.

The Green Party is calling for an independent commissioner for animal welfare after discovering the "horrendous conditions" on the farm.

According to Stuff, animal welfare spokeswoman, Mojo Mathers and Farmwatch spokesman, John Darroch have both expressed the view that the MPI is not the right body to be monitoring animal welfare on farms
Other (non-export) News / Dogs starved, maimed in heart-breaking cruelty
« Last post by WA Export News on July 24, 2014, 01:33:24 PM »
 Dogs starved, maimed in heart-breaking cruelty         

Sherele Moody | 24th Jul 2014 5:00 AM       
     Friends of RSPCA president Judy Whicker gives the emaciated husky some tender loving care.  Friends of RSPCA president Judy Whicker gives the emaciated husky some tender loving care. Allen Winter     

IT'S the shocking case of cruelty that brought a seasoned animal welfare advocate to tears.

Two huskies on the brink of death - starved, mutilated and ignored.

Lady and Misty were handed over to Friends of the RSPCA Gladstone late on Tuesday.

The animals, severely under-weight and one with its ears mutilated, left the organisation's president, Judy Whicker, angry and shaken.

"I have been involved with the Friends of the RSPCA for over six years and Lady is on a par with two other extreme emaciated cases we have had in that time," she told The Observer yesterday.
   The bony body of the underfed husky.  The bony body of the underfed husky.  Allen Winter     

"I felt terribly angry at the owner for treating the dogs this way and then absolutely sickened when I saw the state they were in.

"Even more sad is that, even though they have been treated so badly these two girls have so much love to give and don't have a nasty bone in their bodies.

"They are absolutely adorable. Gentle natures.

"There were five volunteers with them this morning and all we wanted to do was cuddle and love them."

Mrs Whicker said it would take time for the animals to return to full health.
   One of the emaciated huskies rescued by Friends of the RSPCA Gladstone.  One of the emaciated huskies rescued by Friends of the RSPCA Gladstone.     

"Both are severely emaciated although Lady, the elder of the two, is the worst," she said.

"She is only nine kilos when a dog her breed is supposed to be around the 15 to 16 kilos.

"They are both riddled with fleas, worms and ticks.

"It also appears that Lady has had her ears docked which is highly illegal as well as painful to the animal.

"We have been told that these dogs have been living on a small verandah for over five years."

Mrs Whicker said the dogs, in time, would heal.

"Misty has gone into a foster home," she said.

"She is quite a lively girl and will certainly benefit from some basic social skills and basic training.

"Lady is going into foster care where she will be kept inside, warm and cosy, and fed at regular intervals throughout the day."

Mrs Whicker said the suffering could have been prevented with just a phone call.

Gladstone police are investigating the cruelty.

A TRUCK fire has killed between 30 and 40 sheep near Mallala.

The truck, which was transporting more than 400 sheep, caught alight on Redbanks Rd about 2.15am.

Country Fire Service crews were able to extinguish the blaze and save most of the sheep.

The RSPCA is at the scene managing the welfare of the animals.

Motorists are advised that Redbanks Rd will remain closed until about 8am.

  •   The Advertiser 
  • July 16, 2014 6:39AM
LIVE exports out of Port Alma would be "unequivocally bad" for Rockhampton, according to local abattoir Teys Australia.   

Teys' general manager for corporate affairs, Tom Maguire, said there were hundreds of millions of dollars in value adding in the supply chain.

 "We understand from a producer's point of view they want to have more choices, but for the city of Rockhampton live exports out of Port Alma would be unequivocally bad," he said.

 "It means decreased value into the economy and less people we're able to employ."

 Teys Australia is one of the biggest employers in the Rockhampton region.
   Member for Rockhampton Bill Byrne.  Member for Rockhampton Bill Byrne.     

Rockhampton MP Bill Byrne yesterday slammed Keppel MP Bruce Young for supporting the proposal during a media conference at Teys Meatworks.

 He said claims the market would benefit producers were "nonsense", and while price issues would improve dramatically in short to medium terms, there were no financial advantages in the long run.

 He also said if the proposal goes ahead it will threaten a considerable number of jobs in Rockhampton.

 "I am all about defending and creating local jobs, rather than exporting them overseas," he said.

 Mr Maguire admitted Teys' is at capacity at the moment and Teys is unable to take cattle for weeks. But he said that would come to an end soon.

 "We know the cattle market is going to be very tight in the coming years," he said.

 Figures from Meat and Livestock Australia indicate that 2.5 to 3 million fewer cattle will be entering the market.

 Mr Maguire also added that in northern Australia, where the live export market exists, 15 meatworks have closed since the 1970s.

Rachael Conaghan | 11th Jul 2014 7:38 AM

THE RSPCA will investigate allegations of cruelty towards sheep during shearing in NSW and South Australia.

The organisation has received complaints from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) about incidents alleged to have taken place during August 2013 and March 2014.

The allegations relate to workers beating, kicking and stomping on sheep, and stitching wounds without anaesthetic.

The vision made publicly available by PETA overnight showed sheep being beaten with shearing hand pieces and thrown down a chute, while sheep that had been injured during shearing were roughly stitched up, an RSPCA spokesperson said.

The RSPCA said shearing was stressful for sheep and it should be carried out by trained and competent workers.

The allegations were serious, the organisation said, and would be investigated by inspectors as information came to hand for potential breaches of the relevant state animal welfare legislation.

July 11, 2014, 4 a.m.
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