Circus plans to sue animal activists.jpg

Circus plans to sue animal activists

USING ANIMALS as part of a circus act is a controversial subject that both animal activists and those who keep the animals are passionate about. Following reports of animal abuse as featured in The Resident October 3, The Resident’s DAISY SAMPSON visited the Victor Hugo Cardinali circus while it was in Praia da Rocha to investigate the conditions of the animals being kept at the circus.

Inga the elephant
Inga the elephant

The elephant at the centre of recent controversy was identified by circus worker Lesley Jackson as being Inga.

Inga was with four other elephants at the time The Resident visited the site and neither she nor the other elephants were tethered.

The elephants, of which only three are used in the show, were in an area protected by a low voltage electric fence.

“As you can see, Inga is not a baby elephant, she has all her teeth and she is very much alive!If the person who had come and taken the pictures of the elephants had waited for us to explain, we could have shown her that Inga was fine,” said Lesley Jackson.

“If the elephants want to escape then they can. We use the electric fence to protect them and the public.”

She added: “Yes, we do chain the elephants at night but it is for their safety and the safety of others and the chains are protected by hosing so they do not harm the elephants.”

A full tour of the site and all the animals was given by Lesley Jackson, who was joined by Victor Hugo Cardinali at various points.

“We want to show that we have nothing to hide here at the circus,” she said.

“ANIMAL have made claims about me mistreating my animals here but they are false and I am considering suing them for these false allegations,” said Victor Hugo Cardinali.

This year some animals have died at the circus.

“There have been autopsies on the animals that have died here. It has been a bad year for us but all the animals died of natural causes,” said Lesley Jackson.

Victor Hugo Cardinali added: “Many more animals will die here at the circus because that is nature. It is not because we mistreat them.

“The animals in the circus are our family and we treat them as such. When an animal suffers, then we all suffer.”

Code of conduct

Victor Hugo Cardinali is a member of the board of the European Circus Association (ECA). The ECA is an organisation that “promotes the freedom of the European circus community with the right to present animals as part of their artistic creation and cultural tradition”.

The ECA has a clear code of conduct for animals and the use of animals in the circus.

“Victor is a member of the board and he agrees with the strict code of conduct set out by the ECA.This shows his commitment to animal welfare,” said Lesley Jackson.

The European Parliament has made reference to circuses in a document dated October 13, 2005 stating that they hope “to ensure that the circus is recognised as forming part of European culture”.

This is something that Victor Hugo Cardinali is keen to point out. “The circus is a tradition in Portugal, just like bull fighting. We may not agree with bull fighting but we accept it. We wish that people would accept our lifestyle as we accept others, even if we do not believe they are right.”

Responding to Victor Hugo Cardinali’s threat to sue, Miguel Moutinho, President of ANIMAL, said: “We have a video of him abusing his animals, this is unequivocal evidence. He has also been recorded live on radio in 2005 saying that he beats the animals to make them perform.  Perhaps he should be suing himself.”

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