Councillors repel animal ban in circuses over fears for Puck Fair

A file photo of a circus tiger

A move to have “a complete ban” on the use of wild animals in circuses in Co Kerry was withdrawn amid fears it could affect the annual Puck Fair in Killorglin.

The motion was preceded by a heated argument at Kerry County Council about the wild goat, which is caught after a day-long chase in the mountains each August, and was felt to be directly threatened

“Avoid Puck for the next 50 years,” the council chairman Michael O’Shea said when his Fianna Fáil colleague Niall Kelleher proposed the circus animals’ ban.

Mr Kelleher said he was moved by the plight of “elephants, tigers and lions” used for entertainment at live circuses and he believed there was not enough regulation on their use. These animals had complex needs, he said, and they should never be used in circuses.

He was amending his motion to include the word “undomesticated”, alongside “wild” he said. Twelve other local authorities had banned wild animals and Kerry should also, Mr Kelleher said. However, he got little backing.

“We’ll be seen as soft,” said party colleague, Killorglin’s John Francis Flynn.

There were “groups out there” he said — referring to animal rights’ activists — who are “against everything and for nothing” and they would use the ban against Puck Fair.

“This is a stepping stone. If this is passed today it will lead to a ban on Puck Fair,” said Mr Flynn.

A further spanner in the works was thrown by Indpendent councillor Maura Healy-Rae who said the motion was “ridiculous” as the council would have to provide expertise on what was wild and what was not wild.

“We have a dog at home. And while he is in a domesticated setting, he’s definitely wild,” she said.


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