Posted in 01/10/2008

Circus and organizations dispute animals in Brasília

(Translation of an article published at Folha de São Paulo in 1st October, 2008) 


Circus and non-governmental organizations are going to battle in Brasilia, on November 4th, during a public audience at the Congress to discuss the Circus Law, which prohibits animals in the shows. In the center of the contest is the property of lions and other exotic species. In case the law is approved, Ibama estimates that 140 felines are going to be abandoned by the circus and have no place to go. So, the institute is registering organizations which are interested in playing the role of "exotic fauna keeping centers" (sanctuaries) and defend the inclusion, in the project, of a support to them.

"We need more centers and incentives to their creation, which could be included in the Circus Law, otherwise, it will be a chaos", says João Pessoa Moreira, Ibama fauna\’s coordinator. According to him, it would be necessary 20 new units, because the capacity of zoos and sanctuaries, the ones which are authorized to receive these animals, is "sold out".


Law proposal 7291/06 gives three years for the circus to adapt to the prohibition. Today there are ten sanctuaries, among them the ones which are affiliated to GAP Project (Protection of Great Primates) and to Aserg ("Rancho dos Gnomos" Ecological Sanctuary Association), in São Paulo, that, according to Moreira, do not use public money.

These organizations, like WSPA (World Society for the Protection of Animals), support the project and accuse the circus of cruelty against the animals. The circus owners, on the other hand, say that the NGO\’s want to keep the animals to compose their sanctuaries. The president of Brazilian Travelling Circus Union (UBCI, in Portuguese), Wlademir Spernega, from Beto Carrero\’s group, believes that there are 800 circus in the country with animals – 40 with non-native. "The organizations want to put them in private zoos", says. "An elephant costs R$ 200.000,00. The circus is going to donate its patrimonyω".


To the president of National Forum for Protection and Defense of the animals, Sônia Fonseca, "there is no animal in circus who does not suffer from mistreating". She says that the training includes burns to condition movements. Augusto Stevanovich, from the 7th generation of Le Cirque, which had animals confiscated in August, guarantees that it\’s not like this. "If the bear steps in a hot foil, it eats you". He explain that the training is only about repetition.

In two years Ibama has done two apprehensions for mistreating in circus: 24 animals from Le Cirque (who are waiting for the final decision by Justice Superior Tribunal, in August, and seven from "Transcontinental circus", in 2006. An there are 98 abandoned lion under its responsibility. UBCI has called the 35 members of the union to an act in Brasilia, where they intend to take elephants. GAP is going to present a circus without animals, with free shows, as the part of a campaign called "Circus without animals are cool". Animals in circus are already prohibit in five states – Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Rio Grande do Sul, Paraíba and Pernambuco – and in 50 cities (including São Paulo). The law proposal is being evaluated at Education and Culture Commission of the Federal Deputies Chamber, goes to Constitution and Justice Commission and after that goes back to the Senate.