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History of Attacks
ATTACKS Involving Lions or Tigers in Australia Since 1980
1980: May: A circus lion attacks and injures a girl despite having had its claws removed as a cub.
1983: Lion tamer needs 80 stitches after being attacked by a lion.
1984: Circus proprietor receives 64 stitches after being attacked by a lion.
1988: Handler hospitalised after being mauled by a tiger.
1989: February: A lion keeper has 170 stitches after being mauled by a tiger reared by the circus since birth.
1991: February: Drunken man severely mauled after freeing four lions from cage.
1991: June: Lion handler mauled by lion during a photo session.
1992: June: St Marys. Tiger that bites a circus worker after escaping from its cage is shot dead. A Benghal tiger is shot dead after escaping from his cage (Robinson's Family Circus). A tiger bit a Robinson Circus worker after escaping from his cage and was shot and killed as he approached a busy shopping center. .
1993: Aug. A semi-trailer carrying lions collide with another circus vehicle and both were stranded on the side of the road for nearly 2 hours. Investigation of the accident revealed that 13 defect notices had been issued against the circus. One of the vehicles didn't even have brakes (Sole Brothers Circus).
1993: Dec. A circus lion 'tamer' is attacked by a lioness during a performance (Ashton Circus).
1994: June: A 20-month-old boy has one arm bitten off and the other badly mauled by a tigon (a lion/tiger cross) at a circus. The boy's father was an employee of the circus.
1997: April. (Perth, WA): A visitor has a finger bitten off and two other people are injured by a circus tiger (Lennon Brothers Circus).
1998: July: A tiger attacks its handler and carries him 5m in front of 200 spectators. During a show in front of 200 spectators, a tiger attacked his handler, picked him up, and carried him 15 feet.
2000: September 12. Brisbane. Two tiger handlers are attacked and bitten by a tiger before shooting a scene for a television series. Two tiger handlers received stitches after they were attacked and bitten by a tiger prior to shooting a scene for the U.S. television series Beastmaster.
2001: Aug. (Penrith, NSW): Lion 'tamer' (Geoffrey Lennon), is attacked by three lions during a performance. Lennon suffered from severe lacerations. Many children in the audience were severely distressed and crying as they witnessed the attack (Lennon Brothers Circus) 2001: August 11. Sydney, Australia: A lion trainer was "thrown around like a rag doll" by two lions during a performance. The trainer was hospitalized for several days in serious condition with puncture wounds to his chest, back, arms, and buttocks. Emergency workers used fire hoses to push back the lions so that the trainer could be rescued.
August 13, 2001, Monday
Mauling Prompts Circus Ban Call
ALL wild animal circuses should be shut down and their breeding programs banned in the wake of a vicious attack by two lions on their trainer, an animal rights group said yesterday.
The call by Animal Liberation NSW comes after lion tamer Geoffrey Lennon was mauled by his charges during a Lennon Brothers' Circus act in Penrith, western Sydney. Horrified spectators, including dozens of children, watched on. Mr Lennon, 40, is still in hospital with cuts and puncture wounds to his chest, back and buttocks from yesterday's attack.
He escaped after other trainers turned hoses on the male lions, whose aggression was believed to have been sparked by a lioness coming into the mating season.
Vice-president of the animal rights group, Margaret Setter, said as long as wild animals were kept in such an unnatural environment they would be a threat to humans.
The attack showed they did not belong in circuses, which did not not have the capacity to evolve more appropriate environments because they were constantly mobile, unlike zoos, she added."The animal circus is way past its heyday. The Government should step in and shut them down and place a ban on the breeding of cats as they are using young ones as a lure for bringing children in," Ms Setter said.
"The animal they see is a pale shadow of itself, they are treated simply like clockwork toys, but they are extremely dangerous ones."
She said it was unfair to put the animals down simply for doing what came naturally.
Rather, they should be rehoused in an open space and left to live out the rest of their lives without being subject to further cruelty.
A spokeswoman for the circus declined to further comment on the incident yesterday, except to confirm that Mr Lennon -- a tamer with 10 years' experience -- was being kept in hospital.
Lion Tamer 'Thrown Around Like Rag Doll'
Circus Big Cats
An Australian lion tamer has been mauled by two of his big cats during a circus performance. Geoffrey Lennon of Lennon Brothers Circus is undergoing surgery for puncture wounds to his chest, back, arms and buttocks. He was taken to hospital in a serious condition. His grandmother, Caroline, told Ananova they "threw him around like a rag doll" at the circus in Penrith, western Sydney.
She said the lions will probably be retired, saying: "Once they've tasted blood they're dangerous." Emergency workers had to wait for the animals to be pushed back by fire hoses before they could reach Mr Lennon. Paramedics say Mr Lennon, 40, was suffering severe shock when they arrived to treat him. But his grandmother said there are no plans to cancel future shows. "The shows will go on," she told Ananova. "But without the lions." No one else was injured during the attack.
List of incidents involving animals used in Circuses - Australia
These incidents are from 1961 until Today
An animal keeper with O’Connells Circus was killed and eaten by 4 lions.
1973 – Perth WA
A 14 year old boy was severely mauled by a tiger belonging to Sole Brothers’ Circus.
A lion belonging to Lennon Brothers’ Circus attacked and injured a 6 year old girl, despite the ‘precaution’ of having his claws removed when 6 months old.
SEPTEMBER 1980 – Near Herbert QLD
3 Lions and 5 tigers were trapped for 4 hours when their cage overturned on the banks of the Wild River.
Sole Brothers’ lion ‘tamer’ Joe Eronis, received 80 stiches after being attacked by a lion. On another occasion, Mr Eronis held a furious lion by the tail when the lion threatened to leap from the cage into the audience.
Circus Royale proprietor Frank Gasser attacked by a lion. Needed 64 stiches.
DECEMBER 1984- Eltham
Silvers Circus proprietors convicted of two counts of cruelty to lion cubs. The cubs were unable to walk from malnutrition, calcium deficiency, worms and mange.
MARCH 1986 – Darwin NT
A camel with the Sole Brothers Circus was attacked by two lions who escaped from their cage. Prior to attacking the camel, the lions turned on their ‘trainer’ who took refuge in a caravan after fending them off with an industrial bin.
EASTER 1988 – Sydney NSW
An animal handler from Robert and Alby Perry’s Circus was hospitalised after being mauled by a tiger used by the circus.
FEBRUARY 1989 – Moruya NSW
Ashtons’ lion keeper, Brett Hall, received 170 stiches after being mauled by a tiger named Moscow, who had been reared by the circus since birth. The tiger escaped from his cage prior to this incident and was eventually recaptured by circus hands using tent poles, cattle prods and a rope tied to his tail.
FEBRUARY 1991 – Ararat VIC
A group of lions belonging to Russells’ Free Circus were released from their cages by an intoxicated man who had been attending a nearby party. Four men including a police officer were mauled before the lions were recaptured.
New South Wales Environment Minister Tim Moore announced that Sole Brothers’ Circus would be refused a permit to import 9 ‘trained’ lions from Papua New Guinea. According to the Minister, “Sole Brothers’ Circus has failed to meet standards required under the Exhibited Animals Protection Act and has been unable to demonstrate that the lions, if imported, would be housed to the standards considered acceptable in New South Wales”.
Jean Perry, a proprietor of Sole Brothers’ Circus wrote to Minister Moore requesting that he overturn the above decision. In her letter, Mrs Perry admitted that the circus’ existing lions “are of an old age…and should have been retired long ago”. Mrs Perry also attempted to mislead the Minister when she claimed in her letter that animal liberation groups “will protest” if a permit to import the animals is refused.
APRIL 26 1997 – Perth WA
A visitor to Lennon Brothers’ Circus had one finger bitten off and two others injured by a circus tiger when he approached too close to the cage.
AUGUST 11 2001- Penrith NSW
Lennon’s Circus. Lion ‘tamer’ Geoffrey Lennon was attacked by three lions during a performance in Penrith. The attack resulted in severe lacerations to the buttocks requiring surgery. Many children were crying in a severely distressed state after witnessing the attack. The owner of the circus stated that he had no idea why the lions would attack… read story.
Animal Circuses News
THREE Lions Attacked Their Trainer
THREE lions attacked their trainer in front of a packed family audience at a Lennon Bros Circus show at Penrith in 2001. Lion tamer Geoffrey Lennon, 40, 'thrown around like rag doll' after the lions set on him at the beginning of the 2 pm performance.
He was taken to the Nepean Hospital in a serious condition.
A woman spectator said a male lion led the attack on Mr. Lennon, jumping on his back and dragging him to the ground. "You could hear children crying, and we tried to be calm for them and tell them the man was going to hospital," said the woman, who asked not to be named. "The trainer was trying to calm one of the lions when the female jumped straight on his back." The woman said two other lions joined in, biting Mr. Lennon on the feet and face while the first lion attacked his buttocks.
Fellow-trainers used fire extinguishers to subdue the lions - a lioness named Pearl and two males named Rudi and Sultan before rescuing Mr. Lennon. Circus owner Lindsay Lennon, the trainer's father, said the quick actions of fellow performers saved his son's life. "If one gets you down, the others tear into you too." he said. "Seconds make all the difference, but they were right on the ball."
A hospital spokesman said Mr. Lennon's injuries were not life-threatening, but he was expected to undergo surgery last night. "Geoffrey has puncture wounds and a little tear to the backside, and he's probably got a bit of shock at the moment," his father said. Shane Lennon said the three lions were each about 12 years old and his brother had worked with them for the past two years. He said Sultan, the lion who led the attack, was a typically aggressive male.
"What happened is that during the performance Geoffrey turned towards Rudi and had his back towards Sultan. Sultan took advantage of that and attacked," Shane Lennon said. The witness said a bloodied Mr. Lennon had walked from the ring after being rescued. "His clothes were quite ripped. "He jumped up and walked out with some others," she said. The witness, who was in the second row, said two of the lions seemed agitated from the outset. "You could see that something was going to happen. "He had trouble controlling two of them - they kept pawing out towards him."
Circus Admits Negligence Over Toddler Attack
By Michael Owen-Brown
April 10, 2004
ASHTON'S Circus has admitted it was negligent in not supervising a tigon – a cross between a tiger and a lion – that severely mauled a curious toddler. Eliah Smith – then called Eliah Quay – lost both his arms when he stuck them through the bars of a cage containing two tigons when the circus performed in Brisbane in 1994. The big cats had been released into an exercise cage in an area of the circus set up as an animal nursery and housed animals such as ducks, sheep and guinea pigs.
Eliah is now 11 and, through his mother Tracy Smith, is suing Ashton's Circus in the South Australian Supreme Court. He was a 20-month-old toddler when he wandered away from his father, Doug Wing Quay, an animal trainer with the circus, on June 23, 1994. When Eliah put his arms into the cage a seven-year-old male tigon called Astra mauled his arms. His left arm was completely amputated and his right arm was amputated above the elbow.
A few days later Eliah was transferred to Adelaide's Women's and Children's Hospital, and was eventually fitted with artificial arms. The Smiths, who live in South Australia, claimed $1 million as interim damages, with the full sum to be assessed after Eliah turns 18. The parties have reached an agreement regarding the immediate claim, and the matter has been adjourned until December 2007 while Eliah matures. The Smiths' statement of claim said the circus owed him a duty of care and his injuries had been caused by its negligence.
"The defendant placed tigons in an area that was totally inappropriate . . . and was a clear attraction for children," it states. "(It) failed to provide safety fencing, guard the perimeter or provide adequate supervision . . . (and) failed to have safe and proper procedures and practices regarding the housing and exercising of tigons." They are claiming damages for loss of earning capacity, cosmetic disabilities, and impairment to Eliah's studies, social, recreational, sporting and domestic activities.
They also claim for the cost of further medical treatment, his need for specialist assistance throughout his life and psychological injuries. In its statement of defence the circus admitted it had been negligent and breached its duty of care. However it says the damages should be assessed under the laws of Queensland, as that is where the accident occurred. Ashton's Circus is no longer in operation. A new company – Joseph Ashton's Circus – was created instead, by the Ashton family.A spokeswoman for the circus said the new operation did not feature any exotic animals such as tigons.
Mr BULLEN—Mr Jones asked the Minister for Public Works and
Services representing the Minister for Agriculture, and Minister
for Land and Water Conservation
(1) Has Mr Bullen fulfilled his obligation to upgrade the African Lion Safari to conform with the Ministry’s requirements referred to in the Minister’s press release of 11 August 1995?
(2) Does Mr Bullen hold a “B” class licence?
(3) Do either, or both, of the facilities owned by the Bullen family meet the standards set down by the Zoological Parks Board?
(4) Is Mr Bullen meeting his obligations relating to bears (classified as Category 2 and defined as dangerous to humans and other animals under the Non-Indigenous Species Act), given that the premises at Wallacia include movable structures suitable for holding animals that are to be rented out to circuses?
(5) Has Mr Bullen violated both the spirit and the substance of the Minister’s approval in removing the bears from the African Lion Safari?
(6) (a) Was Mr Bullen negligent in allowing an intruder to release lions from the African Lion Safari?
(b) Is it possible for further releases to occur?
(7) Was there a departmental inspection of security arrangements at the African Lion Safari following up from the deaths of a dog and the lioness?
(8) Does the Non-Indigenous Animals Act 1987, section 13 (1) (b), state “A person who wilfully or negligently permits the escape of any such animal kept by the person or of which the person is in charge, is guilty of an offence and liable to a penalty not exceeding $10,000 or imprisonment for 6 months, or both”?
(9) Has or will Mr Bullen be charged in relation to the animal escapes?
(10) Did Mr Stafford Bullen make an application to Shoalhaven Shire Council in 1996 to set up a mobile lion park or circus at Wandandian?
(11) Did local residents strenuously object to the application on animal welfare, environmental and human safety grounds and was the application rejected because its standards failed to meet the requirements of the Exhibited Animals Protection Act?
(12) What are the grounds for permitted animals to be kept in facilities known to be closed since 1991 given that “zoological gardens” is defined in section 5 of the Exhibited Animals Act as a place “in which animals are displayed, or kept for display, for educational, cultural, scientific or recreational purposes”?
(13) Is the Minister satisfied that the Exhibited Animals Advisory Committee is fulfilling its duties under section 8 (b) “to monitor the effectiveness of the scheme governing the exhibition of animals established under Part 3 and to recommend to the Board any changes which may appear to the advisory committee to be necessary for the efficient operation of that scheme”?
(14) Are the premises used by Mr Bullen entitled to be authorised as an animal display establishment under section 17 of the Act and are they being used in accordance with the terms and conditions to which the licence is subject?
(15) Are the bears, which are expensive to maintain, being retained for commercial reasons?
(16) Is a register being kept in accordance with the mandatory Standards for Exhibiting Circus Animals in New South Wales, section 21 I-ix and section 21.2?
(17) Does this register include daily records maintained for each animal showing, among other things:
(a) breeding history—including mating dates, mating partners, number and sex of any offspring and the fate of those offspring?
(b) medical history—including diagnoses of diseases, medical treatments, surgical procedures and vaccinations?
(c) individual records of animals no longer in possession?
(18) Do these records include a fourth bear which is claimed to have been shot by local residents?
(19) Will the Minister ensure the cancellation of the licence of this establishment and the rehabilitation of the animals kept?
Answer—(1) Yes. (2) Yes.
(3) The Zoological Parks Board has not set down standards under the Exhibited Animals Protection Act since 1991 when this responsibility was taken over by NSW Agriculture. Neither the African Lion Safari nor the facility at Wallacia owned by the Bullen family are licensed under the Exhibited Animals Protection Act because animals held at these facilities are not on display to the public. However, some animals are held at Wallacia under the authority of the Exhibited Animals Protection Act while not performing in circuses - these animals and holding facilities were inspected on 19 February 1998 for compliance with the Circus Standards and General Standards for Exhibiting Animals in New South Wales. At this inspection, the animals seen at Wallacia that are used in circus displays all appeared healthy.
(4) The three (one male and two females) bears are held in permanent facilities at Wallacia, not temporary structures. The enclosure measures 108 square metres plus a night holding area of 8 square metres and is fully enclosed. More than half the outside area has natural substrate with large water troughs which can be used for bathing. They are completely secure and comply with the Non-Indigenous Animals Act. These animals are not displayed and not subject to the Exhibited Animals Protection Act.
(5) Mr Bullen did not apply for a permit under the Non-Indigenous Animals Act to move the bears as required. The bears were apparently removed from the Warragamba site because of frequent complaints. Action for failure to apply for a permit will be taken by NSW Agriculture as part of an order issued under the Act.
(6) (a) The lion escape occurred on 7 August 1995. As a result, Craig Bullen, licensee at the African Lion Safari, was required to upgrade facilities.
(b) Upgrading is complete for the lions. The measures currently in place should minimise the risk of any further releases.
(7) A departmental inspection took place after the escape in 1995.
(9) No. At the time of the escape, it was not considered that there were grounds for prosecution. The statute of limitations would prevent action from being taken in the future with respect to this incident.
(11) I am not aware of whether any objections were lodged with Shoalhaven City Council. I am advised that in February 1997, Shoalhaven City Council did not issue Mr Bullen a consent to operate a proposed temporary lion park because Mr Bullen was not able to provide evidence of approval from NSW Agriculture. No approval for the temporary lion park has been granted by NSW Agriculture.
(12) Certain exotic animals which are not used for display may legally be held under the Non-Indigenous Animals Act. Standards under the Non-Indigenous Animals Act and the Exhibited Animals Protection Act are not identical.
(13) There is no evidence to suggest that the Exhibited Animals Advisory Committee is not fulfilling this function. Very few of the animals held by the Bullens come under the jurisdiction of the Exhibited Animals Protection Act in any case. Please note that the Director-General of NSW Agriculture replaced the Zoological Parks Board of NSW as licensing authority under the Exhibited Animals Protection Act in 1991.
(14) No animals are exhibited at this site. However, the premises are used as a holding site for some animals which are permitted to be used in a circus under the Exhibited Animals Protection Act. The premises are licensed under the Non-Indigenous Animals Act.
(15) Inspectors were informed that the bears are not used for any commercial purpose and are likely to be sold to a facility in Victoria within 6 months.
(16) and (17) These requirements apply only to those animals held for use in circuses, that is, camels, 3 elephants, 1 tiger, 1 baboon and lions. Record keeping did not meet requirements.
The records of acquiring and disposal of animals needed be brought up to date and each animal required individual records.
(19) No consideration is being given to cancelling any of Mr Bullen’s authorities.
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Rex & Heather Gilroy - Research of the Australian (Marsupial) Panther -Sighting Reports
Kangaroo Valley: If, as I maintain, we are dealing with a still unknown species of giant marsupial cat
related to Thylacoleo, then we can cancel out the 'panther' feral cat theory. Undoubtedly,
feral cats make up a large percentage of Kangaroo Valley 'panther' reports, but a comparison
of physical descriptions and plaster casts of 'panther' paw-prints certainly distinguishes this
animal from any feral cat.
Rex and Heather Gilroy-Australia's Top 'Unexplained'
Photos & Text From mysterious Australia copyright (c) Rex & Gilroy Heather 2010.
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