ANIMAL rights protesters were in full voice in Ballarat yesterday, making their presence felt at two public events.
The Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses (CPR) led a well-planned protest at the Ballarat Turf Club’s first jumps racing meet since 2009, while a group of about 20 animal advocates caused animosity outside the Lennon Brothers Circus.
Several were seen at both events.
Protesters were greeted with backlash at the circus as members of the public resisted megaphones pointed directly at them while they attempted to leave the Ballarat Showgrounds.
“Please think before taking your kids into the circus again, they shouldn’t grow up around animal cruelty,” one protester said on the loudspeaker. “Your entertainment is their (the animals) abuse and suffering.”
Protest co-ordinator Stephanie Dyer defended the aggressive approach, saying the public needed to know what went on behind the scenes.
“They’re bringing their kids here to have a good time but the public don’t understand what these animals go through for their entertainment,” she said.
“It’s really important that the public is educated so they can make an informed choice.”
When asked whether the activist group had attempted to speak with the Lennon brothers, Ms Dyer said dialogue was not their goal.
“We haven’t and we really don’t want to. I mean, these people are profiting from exploiting wild animals,” she said.
Circus manager Warren Lennon said the animals had “pretty good lives” and that protesters were misleading the public.
“A lot of what they’re saying isn’t true. We adhere to state and federal regulations, we get on-the-spot inspections and we can’t afford to do the wrong thing by our animals and we won’t,” Mr Lennon said.
“Because if you harm an animal they’re not going to do anything for you. They’re like our pets.”
Earlier in the day about 20 CPR protesters attended the jumps race meet, where a designated area for them had been set up by the Ballarat Turf Club.
CPR campaign manager Elio Celotto said protesters had covered every jumps race meet this season, and were stationed around the course to capture footage and photos of any horses injured during the races.
“It’s just a matter of time before the next one falls and is killed,” Mr Celotto said. “It’s devastating to have to witness it when you know it can be prevented, and it spurs us on to keep up the fight ... until jumps racing is banned.”
Ballarat police said the CPR protesters were well behaved.