Circus reopens after SPCA complaint

Visitors queueing at the McLaren Circus in Muizenberg.

McLaren Circus is back in business after the City of Cape Town withdrew its event permit last week following an SPCA complaint.

The SPCA issued the circus with a warning for at least six contraventions of the Animal Protection Act, but circus owner David McLaren says the City re-instated their permit on Wednesday March 30, after a site visit, and their evening show was sold out.

McLaren Circus spokesman Karl Hildebrandt said the SPCA inspection and withdrawal of their event permit followed a Carte Blanche episode on Sunday March 27 in which it was alleged that the animals were not well cared for.

The Cape of Good Hope SPCA had visited the circus in Muizenberg the next day, he said.

Cape of Good Hope SPCA chief inspector Jaco Pieterse said they had been granted access to the circus premises but had not been allowed to take photographs of the animals or their enclosures.

They had found at least six violations of the Animals Protection Act, he said, including a lioness with no drinking water; lions and Bengal tigers kept in cramped spaces; unhygienic conditions, including a putrid smell in some of the animals’ cages; and three French poodles with poor dental health.

The circus had been issued with a warning and given 48 hours to address some of the issues and seven days to deal with others, Mr Pieterse said.

The City had withdrawn the circus’s event permit but subsequently reinstated it on condition the circus complied with the SPCA’s instructions, he said but added that the Wednesday night show should not have gone ahead as the circus had only dealt with some of the contraventions and the SPCA had not given its approval.

Mr McLaren said the poodles had been cleared by a vet after having their teeth seen to on Thursday March 31 and he had gotten more fly traps.

“We don’t deny our animals access to water and food, and our pride of lions is accustomed to living with one another,” he said.

He denied that the animals’ cages had been dirty and accused the SPCA of dishonesty.

“We have done everything we can to comply with the SPCA’s report,” he added.

Mr Hildebrandt said they had been overwhelmed by the support from Muizenberg and surrounds.

“All our shows except for two were sold out including three shows that we added,” he said, adding that the circus had passed a further inspection by City officials on Thursday March 31.

Mayoral committee member for safety and security JP Smith said officials from the City’s events permitting office, Law Enforcement officers and the SPCA had been satisfied after visiting the circus again on Thursday March 31.

“The circus has committed to resolving one outstanding matter raised by the SPCA,” he said.

Messages both for and against the circus flooded social media last week after the City pulled the event permit. “Please don’t support @mclarencircus. Please, please boycott this very outdated and cruel entertainment,” said one. “Keep up the amazing work. Your circus and animals are loved. Don’t let a small minority ruin it for you,” said another.

It was back to business for the McLaren Circus after the City of Cape Town reinstated its event permit following a complaint by the Cape of Good Hope SPCA.