A ringmaster who ran away to join the circus has revealed the vile death threats and abuse his performers receive from misguided animal activists.
Adam St James is a 21-year veteran of Australia’s travelling Stardust Circus – home to African lions, monkeys, horses and trick ponies – and has vehemently denied accusations of animal cruelty which his team often face.
‘It certainly is a bit twisted… we’ve had people tell us they’d rather our staff dead than the animals,’ Mr St James told Daily Mail Australia.
‘The worst thing is having to defend yourself against false accusations.’
Stardust Circus is one of only two circuses left in Australia, making it an easy target of constant criticism from irate animal rights protesters.
The organisation’s Facebook page has been flooded with sickening messages, while some even threatened to sneak into the circus tents and set the animals loose.
‘They have been threatening to come down and release them in the middle of the night,’ Mr St James said.
‘I hope your lions f***ing eat you,’ one particularly hateful message read.
Mr St James said his team ensures their animals are kept in ‘tip-top’ shape and has refuted any claims of ‘barbaric’ treatment.
Animal activists have flooded the page and have sent sickening messages (pictured)
The performers face constant abuse by those who believe the animals are mistreated (Facebook message pictured)
‘There are no barbaric training sessions behind closed doors. We absolutely do ensure we do the right thing,’ he added.
‘The animals are loved, they are treated well and are in tip-top shape.’
He has slammed the ‘city people’ who abuse the circus performers and said he does not face criticism from residents in country towns such as Orange or Bathurst, where Stardust Circus is currently taking place.
The abusers were reported to the police and Mr St James said it has stopped for now.
Stardust Circus has passed multiple inspections from the RSPCA and follows the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Exhibited Animals, the ringmaster said.
He said inspectors from the RSPCA have turned up unannounced to the circus tents several times and have never witnesses a whiff of animal cruelty.
He said inspectors from the RSPCA have turned up unannounced to the circus tents several times and have never witnesses a whiff of animal cruelty (Pictured left is air-conditioning attached to animal enclosure and right a lion)
The animals at Stardust Circus perform various tricks during the hour-and-a-half show, including lions walking on planks and goats climbing on ladders.
The lions are born and bred in captivity and are 20th generation circus animals.
Stardust Circus and Lennon Bros Circus are both owned by Janice Lennon and her husband Lindsey, after the Lennon family founded Lennon Bros in the 1890s.
Their Australian circus empire has faced backlash for decades from those opposed to animal performers.
The future of circus animals in Australia hangs in the balance as The Animal Justice Party pushes a bill in the NSW Parliament to ban animal circuses.
The bill would amend the existing Exhibited Animals Protection Act 1986, to ban exhibition of specified animals within a circus, amusement park, fair or similar place of entertainment.
Read the original article at dailymail.co.uk here.