Caught on video: how wallaby escaped from circus in disco storm

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Irish Daily Mail, Laura Lynott

THESE exclusive pictures show a wallaby escaping from the same zoo caught up in a furore about a wallaby being abused at a Dublin disco.

The night-time video footage was shot at Circus Sydney when it stopped off in Crumlin, and is dated September 30, 2010.

Days later a wallaby was manhandled at a disco at the Clarion Hotel in Liffey Valley, west Dublin, when the circus was sited just 500 metres away.

Our pictures show a small, terrified wallaby – just like the one caught on camera in the sick video that shocked the world and led to an outcry across Australia. That footage was shot at the 30th birthday party of Clondalkin man Michael Byrne on Saturday, October 16 at the Clarion Hotel in Liffey Valley, Dublin.

The defenceless animal was held aloft and was bumped up and down by a burly, bald male who was intent on providing ‘entertainment’ to the crowd of 150 party-goers.

The Irish Daily Mail has obtained exclusive new video footage showing a wallaby running from its cage into a busy car park, surrounded by screaming children.

The night-time escape happened when the circus was performing in Crumlin, Dublin – but German circus owner Alexander Scholl blamed the animal’s flight on the children in the area, claiming the youngsters had released the marsupial into the chaos.

Our clip shows the creature hopping frantically around the car park, only metres from a busy road, as children jump and scream. Some run amok, full of high jinks, after the animal – but one can only imagine its fear and panic.

Mr Scholl has denied releasing a wallaby to the 30th birthday party, which took place days later, saying: ‘They think it was one of my wallabies but it definitely was not. I would never lend them out to a nightclub with all the noisy music.

‘Someone told them the wallaby was given an ecstasy tablet and now it is dead. I said if it is dead then it is not one of my wallabies; I showed them (my two wallabies) Skippy and Sydney.’

His daughter, Mandy, who also performs at the circus – a family run business, said her relatives are ‘upset’ by the rumour that they were behind a wallaby being released at the disco.

Miss Scholl insists all the animals are ‘loved’ and ‘well cared for’ while she blamed the escape of the wallaby in Crumlin on the ‘nasty’ children in the area.

However, she admitted the circus security had not been tight at the time when the marsupial escaped, saying: ‘We did leave the gate unlocked, where the wallaby lived during the day. But this happened at night during the show and it was the children in Crumlin who released the animal. They are nasty children up there and they created a lot of trouble for us during our stay.

‘Here at the circus, we love our animals. They are like members of the family and are very well looked after. We share our food with them and even our sweets. We are leaving Ireland. This whole thing has really upset my family. Imagine being accused of something you didn’t do. We didn’t rent this wallaby to that party but we are still being blamed no matter how many times we say we had nothing to do with it.

‘On the night the wallaby escaped in Crumlin, we were quick to catch it again. We do everything we can for our animals here and a vet visits to make sure they are being looked after, which they are. Their living conditions are good and they are happy.

‘We are leaving Ireland because we are being blamed for this and no-one is listening to us. We are leaving because of this racism.’

The Irish Daily Mail went to visit the two marsupials living at the zoo, now in Lucan, Co. Dublin, along with the other animals. We were told that the wallabies, Skippy and Sydney, are living with a huge ostrich in one trailer.

‘The emu is in there with the wallabies,’ a worker smiles, gesturing toward a chipboard ensemble only big enough to fit an eight-foot emu – and certainly leave no room for movement. Posing as animal lovers, we asked the circus hand how an ostrich and an emu could fit in such a tight space.

The foreign national smiled: ‘No, it’s only an emu in there. It’s in there because it’s tired. The emu is having a sleep and those above the box are to keep it warm.’

And only inches away from the towering container sit the two little wallabies – the kind of creatures that have become the centre of an international scandal.

Craig Redmond, from The Freedom for Animals, said: ‘Those who participated in the appalling abuse of a wallaby at this party need to be identified. Even if the animal wasn’t forced to drink alcohol or take drugs as some reports claim, it is clearly inappropriate to subject a timid animal to the noise, lights and crowd of a rowdy party.

‘Video footage clearly shows the animal acting frightened as she is manhandled by partygoers.

‘We will have to await the outcome of the gardaí investigation to see whether Circus Sydney, which is currently based near the hotel, supplied the wallaby. But we welcome the questioning of the circus boss as a sensible line of investigation.

‘We would urge anyone with information to provide it to the authorities to ensure those responsible for this cruelty are prosecuted.’

What can you do

– Boycott circuses with performing animals

Become a Freedom for Animals supporter – you can help to make a difference

– Write to your Assembly Member/TD, asking them to support a ban animal use in circuses. Contact details can be found HERE for Republic of Ireland and HERE for Northern Ireland

– Write to your local newspaper highlighting what is wrong with circuses.

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