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"You must be crazy!" Caged protest counts down


"You must be crazy!" Caged protest counts down

Knowing a human is incarcerated inside a tiny cage for 26 hours sparks a resounding response from on-lookers of 'I could never do that, you must be crazy!' 'Not crazy', replies Billy, 'I'm just here to make point!'

Cramp, boredom, achy joints and a sore bum! As the 26-hour caged protest against circus animals counts downs to a remaining six hours, the effects of severe confinement begin to take their toll.

Local SAFE activist and volunteer Billy Leonard, stepped inside a small wooden constructed cage at 12 noon on Friday in opposition to the miserable and deprived life circus animals endure everyday of their lives. The 26 hours represents the 26 years Jumbo, a 29-year old female African elephant, has spent in solitary confinement devoid of a natural environment and the company of other elephants.

"It's hard to imagine the effects of 26 years of severe confinement and deprivation has on a naturally free-roaming and social elephant such as Jumbo. When someone in front of you is confined in such a way, you begin to appreciate the intolerable life circus animals endure. If you were to put yourself in the shoes of a six-tonne performing elephant or any other circus animal, the need for New Zealand to declare itself circus-animal free becomes unquestionable", says SAFE Director Anthony Terry.

The code of welfare for circus animals was released for a six week public consultation period by the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, an advisory body to the Minister of Agriculture. The public submission period closed at 5pm yesterday. Over 18,000 submissions have been made against the use of exotic animals in circuses.

"While New Zealanders no longer have the opportunity to object to the proposed minimum standards for circus animals for the next ten years, they can continue to boycott circuses with performing animals. Exotic animals in particular, suffer distressing and traumatic lives because of their instinctive and complex behavioural needs as wild animals."

"While we will be celebrating the release of one of our own from captivity today it will be carried with great heartfelt and sadness that Jumbo's plight, and the plight of the seven remaining exotic animals continues for yet another day. Until legislation prohibits such blatant suffering and deprivation circus animals will continue to suffer."

Billy Leonard will be released at 2pm today alongside a protest staged outside New Zealand's last remaining circus with exotic animals in Papaptoetoe, Auckland.

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