No NSPCA applause for lions, horses on stage

The National Council of SPCAs (NCSPCA) has condemned the Johannesburg Civic Theatre for using wild animals on stage in its production of Verdi’s Aida.

NSPCA spokesperson Christine Kuch said on Tuesday it was “unethical and unacceptable” that two lions, a tiger and horses were being taken on stage in each performance and then transported back to their natural environment.

It was deplorable that the animals should be subjected to high levels of stress as they were not familiar with the noise and lighting on stage, she said.

“These are wild animals [that] people pay to see in what they believe is a natural environment at the game reserve where they normally live. It should not be expected that they would simply be lent out to an operatic company to add spice or authenticity to a stage show,” she said.

Although the animals were not performing, Kuch said, SPCA policy opposed “the use of any animal in entertainment likely to cause distress or adversely affect the animal’s welfare”.

The NCSPCA was previously consulted when the Civic Theatre intended to bring a horse on stage for a pantomime.
However, no consultation took place in terms of the animals on stage during Aida, Kuch said.

She appealed to the organisers to use their common sense and stop the practice immediately.

The director of Opera Africa, Sandra de Villiers, however said the Civic Theatre had acquired all the necessary certificates and documentation for the animals to be on stage. She said her organisation was conscious of the needs of the animals and would not put them in harm’s way.

Animals such as the horses worked with the police and were accustomed to noise, De Villiers said.—Sapa

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