Pictured with his wallaby: the club snap that damns circus boss

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

Irish Mail on Sunday,  Christian Mccashin

This is the picture which proves that circus owner Alexander Scholl is a liar who DOES rent his animals out to nightclubs.

The exclusive snap was taken at Earth Nightclub in Drogheda last October – and is published only days after Scholl told the Irish public that he had never allowed any of his animals into a club.

He had previously said that claims of him bringing a wallaby to the club were untrue and laid the blame on drunken revellers who had seen a man in a costume.

However, the Irish Mail on Sunday’s pictures prove that he lied about this – suggesting that he may also have lied about events last weekend, when a wallaby was brought to a 30th birthday party just 500m from where his Circus Sydney is currently performing in Lucan, west Dublin.

Disturbing video footage of the frightened animal being manhandled by party-goers in the Clarion Hotel, as the theme tune to Skippy played in the background, has sparked outrage around the world after was it posted on the internet.

Friends of Michael Byrne, celebrating his birthday with scores of friends at a function room in the hotel, claimed they each put in €50 to pay Scholl’s circus €250 to bring the wallaby to the party for ‘a bit of craic’.

But Scholl denied it was his wallaby and said the incident has ‘absolutely nothing to do with me’.

Then, when claims surfaced during the week that he had brought a wallaby into Earth Nightclub in Drogheda in October last year as part of a circus theme night while his show was performing nearby, Scholl gave another forthright denial.

His circus was performing near the town, but he said the only wallaby in the club that night was a man dressed in a kangaroo suit. Asked how clubbers could be mistaken, he said: ‘You know how the Irish people drink; they can see anything, if they see a dog they could say it is a pig.

‘People drink and they don’t see, in the nightclub the light is a little bit funny, the kangaroo with the man inside was in the nightclub bouncing around. It looks like a kangaroo because it bounces like a kangaroo.
‘They thought the man in the kangaroo suit was a real kangaroo. It is hard to believe.’

Now this picture – dated October 23, 2009 – with the name of the nightclub in the background, proves Scholl was there with a wallaby. When confronted about the picture, Scholl, 44, still tried to deny it. ‘Me? Definitely not. I only brought the man in the kangaroo suit. If they got a wallaby in there, I never saw it.’

Scholl, who moved to Ireland seven years ago with an elephant act and started his own circus four years ago, also claimed he would never allow his animals into a nightclub.

‘They are my babies, I would never let anybody else touch them. And they are dangerous to bring into a nightclub, they have very sharp claws and if they got a woman on the chest she’d be destroyed. I don’t want to get the blame for this, people are going to sue me.

The arrival of the wallaby shocked some revellers at the club that night.

One said: ‘It must have been around midnight when this man came in with a wallaby on a leash.

‘He walked it around the club among all the drunk clubbers. I couldn’t believe it. The wallaby looked completely terrified.’

Scholl’s wife Yvette claims the incident in the Clarion Hotel was a stunt by animal rights activists to blacken the name of their circus.

‘I believe the animals rights people instigated this thing in the hotel because we are here beside it.’

Alexander added: ‘This thing had nothing to do with my circus. There was no wallaby from Circus Sydney, somebody else has got a wallaby. It’s so easy to get a wallaby.
There are many people around who will give you them.’

Scholl and his circus, which includes his four children, plan to quit Ireland for a tour of Scandinavia and Europe at the end of October and return in five years’ time.

A man calling himself Mick, who claimed he organised bringing the wallaby into his pal’s birthday party, said he originally wanted to bring a monkey into the bash.

‘I was at the circus and the fella was outside with the monkey and I asked him if he could bring it to a party for a laugh for the lads.

‘He said that he doesn’t usually do it but he could, and he would charge me to bring it into the party.
‘The monkey never showed up, he brought the wallaby instead. He rang an hour before so I went and got a CD done and gave it to the DJ and he came in with this wallaby.
‘He came in and he had it in a box. It was gone as quick as it came in. It was there five minutes.
‘The crowd gathered around and then the man got worried for the safety of the thing and took it away. It’s out of a circus so it’s used to screaming and lights.’

A spokesman for the Clarion Hotel said staff had no idea anyone had planned to bring the wallaby into the club and were ‘appalled’ by what had happened.

‘The incident, which involved an innocent animal, has horrified managers and staff alike.’

The cruel incident is being investigated by both the Gardai and the DSPCA. A source close to the investigation said there would be no arrest over the row after legal advice confirmed there was no law against bringing a wallaby into a disco – but that an arrest was being considered last night in relation to the wasting of Garda time over the investigation.

The source said: ‘The gardai know where the wallaby came from but there is no law against bringing it into a disco and the animal is unharmed. They were misled when they spoke to people about it, so they are considering an arrest in connection with that.’

However, last night Circus Sydney were packing up, appearing ready to leave Dublin altogether.

In another incident, in October last year, five llamas and three goats escaped from a compound near the M50 and ran out onto the motorway, causing 8km tailbacks.

The ‘llama drama’ started when, Scholl claimed, a diesel delivery driver had left the gate to his llama compound open. But the oil company denied the accusation and Scholl was accused of a bizarre publicity stunt.

Gardai were called in to help herd the animals up. David Duffy, of Duffy’s Circus, said: ‘There have been a number of incidents over the last number of years where elephants have been let loose and camels let loose on main roads.

‘If it was a publicity stunt, it’s a dangerous thing to be doing. We’re in the entertainment business and we all want publicity, but there’s a line that has to be taken where you endanger animals or you endanger members of the public.’

The five llamas and three goats were transferred to a holding pound in Summerhill, Co. Meath, after being rounded up by South Dublin County Council at the Red Cow roundabout, and Scholl was ordered to pay €5,500 by the council for their return. But days after the incident, the llamas disappeared from the compound. Scholl denied their escape was anything to do with him.

Meanwhile, Alexander’s brother Martin Scholl was convicted of drugging his performing dogs in order to smuggle them from Germany to Ireland, after customs officers stopped him when one woke and started barking.

Martin Scholl last year appeared in a British court facing two counts of animal trafficking and two of animal cruelty when he tried to drive two sedated dogs off a boat from France in boxes in his horse lorry.

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.

Send a donation to help our campaigns – your contribution is vital.

Click HERE to get involved in our campaigns in the Republic of Ireland and HERE to get involved in Northern Ireland contact us info@captiveanimals.org to join our e-mail list.

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