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Greece bans circuses with animals

09 February 2012 / 20:02:14  GRReporter
3714 reads

Victoria Mindova

In Greece, a law has banned circuses with trained animals. This is part of the country's policy to protect the rights of domestic and wild animals and protect them from abuse and torture, which they often face in their unnatural environment. GRReporter contacted the Greek foundation for animal protection, which has made the issue public and talked with the representative of the organization - Evgenia Mataraga. "It was high time to ban animal performances mainly because the tricks that they must perform are extremely unnatural and are beyond their nature and habits of animals. To perform, they are tortured, subjected to systematic harassment and beatings," said the specialist from the voluntary organization.

"You must understand that wild animals such as bears, lions or elephants are not like pets - apartment dogs or yard cats. Their nature is different. The needs of an animal should be respected. They are not made to jump and dance in little dresses." Evgenia Mataraga clarified that in order to perform every night when there is a performance, these animals are tortured and training then is very difficult. They forget the tricks quickly and it is necessary to constantly "recall" them. Research on training in circus showed that canes with hidden nails are used on the arena to pierce the animals to perform the tricks. Behind the curtains, elephant trainers even pour water on the animals and then use some electricity to make the animal do the trick.

The voluntary organization had begun lobbying for a ban on animals in circuses in Greece in 2006. At that time, politicians did not pay particular attention to the requirements of the volunteering animal friends. The Greek organization sought the assistance of Animal Defenders International and along with 52 similar organizations, slowly and gradually started to spread information about the specific problem, winning over public opinion. The specialist said that in Greece, there are no native circuses (except in parliament), and guest performances come mainly from Italy. "When in 2007 the Mundo circus settled in the open space of the old Olympic stadium, we did whatever we could to spoil their presence. They were using not only animals, but were also polluting the environment, and the circus was near the sea without permission from the municipality of Moschato. Circus waste was dumped directly into the sea and the animals were kept under very poor conditions. This was the last time when a circus came to Athens. Then, they had performances mostly in the countryside."

The Greek foundation for animal protection takes care of homeless and tortured domestic animals too. "There is active and passive harassment. Passive harassment, for example, is when a owner  is holding a large dog constantly on the balcony without taking it out for a walk often enough. In these cases, animals are whining or barking constantly." Mataraga explained that most frequently, indications about incorrect treatment of domestic animals come from neighbours. Some owners make mistakes due to ignorance or carelessness, and after the organization contacts them, they change their behaviour towards animals. Others become aggressive. The most common reaction encountered when responding to signs of tortured animals is "Why do you not take care of a child instead of taking up with my dog," and the response is, "Let us take care of the dog first, and then, we can help a child in need together. We have to start from somewhere anyway."

Evgenia Mataraga explained that the law on animal welfare, which prohibits the use of animals in circuses in Greece is not perfect. It abolished the police interference following signs of animal abuse. Instead, the municipal police officers who, unfortunately, are not on the payroll in each municipality will do this.

Tags: SocietyCircusAnimal harassmentGreece
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