The general manager of the Daredevil Circus, which opens in Derry today, has hit out at those who have accused the circus of animal cruelty.
The Daredevil Circus is formerly known as Courtney Brothers Circus, was in Buncrana earlier this week.
Campaign groups against circuses using wild animals took part in protests outside the circus and a silent demonstration is planned for tonight when the circus opens near Pennyburn Industrial Estate.
“There is animal cruelty in all walks of life. There’s animal cruelty happening in every country in the world but what’s that got to do with me?,” said Mr. Conway.
“If a Muslim kills a large number of people in some part of the world does that mean that all Muslims are bad? No. Of course it doesn’t. The same has can be said for circuses or people who work with animals. Just because someone is cruel to animals elsewhere doesn’t mean it is happening at this circus,” he said.
In the last few days, the Journal has been inundated with people looking to make their opposition to the circus operating in Derry known.
“It is disgraceful that in this day age we continue to allow such barbaric entertainment as animals being used in circuses,” said Sarah Ross.
“While circus owners claim that circuses are educational and good family fun, just what is it that they are teaching our children? An elephant made to sit on a stool and play the harmonica; a lion made to jump through a hoop; what do these spectacles teach us?,” she added.
The Journal contacted Derry City Council to ask them if they had received any complaints over the arrival of the circus.
“DCC has not been involved in any decision making process regarding permission for the circus to set up in Derry. It will be accommodated on private land at Pennyburn,” said the spokesperson.
“Council has not received any complaints in relation to the circus, but if alerted to any concerns over the maltreatment of animals the matter will be investigated by our animal welfare officers.
“Our statutory responsibilities on this matter are essentially in relation to ensuring the safety of the public attending such facilities and events, which are required to meet the appropriate health and safety bye-laws. Inspections of such facilities are carried out accordingly.
“While Derry City Council has no authority to ban circuses with performing animals to operate in the Council area, it does not however permit such circuses to operate from Council owned sites and facilities.”
When asked about how Daredevil Circus cares for and looks after its five tigers and one camel, Mr. Conway, said everything was above board.
“All of our animals are subject to inspection from the Department for Agriculture. In the last four months we have had three inspections from vets. All of our animals are well looked after and they are micro chipped, have passports and everything. I have no problem with people having an opinion but just because you are passionate about your opinion doesn’t mean you can accuse every circus of animal cruelty,” he said.