Sat, Oct 14, 2006 - Page 3 News List

Activist calls for ban on use of animals in circuses

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA

The founder of a conservation group urged the legislature yesterday to amend the law to ban animal shows in circuses.

Shih Chao-hui (釋昭慧), a Buddhist nun and a professor at Hsuan Chuang University, made the call along with Democratic Progressive Party legislators Wang Shu-hui (王淑慧) and Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) at the Legislative Yuan.

The founder of the Life Conservationist Association urged the public to boycott the Great Moscow Circus, which began a two-month nationwide tour on Oct. 6 at the invitation of the New Aspect Cultural and Educational Foundation.

Shih described performances by circus animals as abuse and denounced New Aspect for arranging the Moscow Circus visit.

Shih said New Aspect has a history of bringing foreign circuses to Taiwan, noting that in 1994 New Aspect invited the Russian Circus, which was later found to have come from an area affected by an epidemic of foot-and-mouth disease.

At that time, many of the circus animals were refused entry because they had not undergone quarantine before being shipped to Taiwan.

Two years later, New Aspect introduced another circus from Europe. This time, the group's wildlife trainers and some performing bears were held up for some six months after the group was hit by a financial crisis and contract disputes.

In 1997, the broker of cultural and art activities invited a third foreign circus, whose animals were held in an airport cargo terminal over a document dispute.

With such an atrocious record, Shih expressed doubt as to how New Aspect could be repeatedly permitted to bring circus animals into the country.

Responding to the question, Hsia Jung-sheng (夏榮生), an official of the Council of Agriculture's wildlife conservation task force, said that since New Aspect's application for the Great Moscow Circus' Taiwan trip was perfectly legal, there was no reason for the council not to give it the green light.

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