Local citizens halt Star Family Circus’ clown/kangaroo boxing act
By Angela Rogalski, print journalism graduate, Meek School of Journalism and New Media
Human versus kangaroo in a boxing match? Now, there’s a visual.
It’s a spectacle that Star Family Circus wanted to bring to the residents of Oxford and Lafayette County at their February 13 visit to the National Guard Armory—that is, until concerned local citizens led by Kimberly Spiegel created an online petition at Change.org and succeeded in putting a halt to the spectacle.
Their concern was the fact that punching any animal in the face or on any other part of its body was animal cruelty, especially if the animal was tethered or secured in any way.
Oxford Police Chief Joey East spoke directly with the owners of Star Family Circus today and conveyed the community’s concerns about the event.
“My office received several calls about this announced boxing match,” East said. “People were concerned for the animal’s safety. After speaking with the circus owners, it is my understanding that the match wasn’t a boxing match at all. It is supposed to be all in good fun, where the kangaroo is never in any danger or gets hurt in any way. There’s a clown involved, and it’s supposed to be strictly for entertainment.”
That is the understanding that circus owners gave Chief East, who said the owners informed him that no audience members were allowed anywhere near the boxing match.
“Regardless, owners were told that we do not want this kind of behavior in Oxford, and we would prefer that they do not hold any sort of boxing match with a kangaroo at all, even with one clown,” East said.
Chief East said the owners agreed and would only have the kangaroo present, but not to box.
“They assured me that the kangaroo will not fight in any way, but it will be allowed to come out,” East said.
East said he will assign a police officer to attend and watch for any violation or deviation from the circus’s agreement to keep the animal out of a boxing scenario.
“The officer will be present,” East said, “although we don’t expect any problems. Star Family Circus has been to the Armory here in Oxford multiple times, and there have never been any issues.”
The petition on Change.org alleges that since 2005, Star Family Circus has been cited by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for nearly two dozen alleged violations of the Animal Welfare Act involving kangaroos, including failing to provide a kangaroo with adequate veterinary care and failing to house a kangaroo in a structurally sound facility that protects the animal from injury. The petition also alleges that the Arkansas National Guard called off another circus’s performances in four cities after learning of its allegedly poor record of animal care.