OCTOBER 1961 – Strathmore, VIC
An 18 year old elephant, Topsy, panicked at Bullens Circus
and ran onto railway tracks where she was hit by a train and
An animal keeper with O’Connells Circus was killed and
eaten by 4 lions.
1973 – Perth WA
A 14 year old boy was severely mauled by a tiger belonging
to Sole Brothers’ Circus.
MARCH 1974 – Heidelberg VIC
Ashton’s elephant Abu, killed her first victim, Douglas
Lang-Smith who was a driver/attendant with the circus.
JANUARY 1978 – Prince Alfred Park NSW
Sole Brothers pony, Rock, was killed when a tree crashed through
power lines during a storm.
Sole Brothers’ elephant, Lana, knocked out a circus
hand before plunging into a creek where she remained for over
FEBRUARY 1980 – Melbourne VIC
The Monte Carlo International Circus was prosecuted by the
Victorian Ministry for Conservation for failing to confirm
to minimum cage sizes.
A lion belonging to Lennon Brothers’ Circus attacked
and injured a 6 year old girl, despite the ‘precaution’
of having his claws removed when 6 months old.
AUGUST 1980 – Ingham QLD
Ashtons’ elephant Abu, escaped from the circus and ran
into a cane field. Two years later, to the day, she repeated
her escapade in the same cane field.
SEPTEMBER 1980 – Near Herbert QLD
3 Lions and 5 tigers were trapped for 4 hours when their cage
overturned on the banks of the Wild River.
Sole Brothers’ elephant, Tara fell from a semi trailer,
sustaining a gash to the head above the right eye.
AUGUST 1982 – Ingham QLD
Ashtons’ elephant Abu, escaped from the circus and ran
into a cane field. Two years, to the day, that she escaped
into the same cane field.
Ashton’s elephant Mother, fell down a disused mine shaft,
hurting a molar which subsequently became infected and she
Cardie an elephant used by a circus was shot after knocking
down her trainer and crushing him against the wall of a truck.
Sole Brothers’ elephants Betty and Jodi have killed
a journalist and a spectator respectively.
2 Elephants belonging to Sole Brothers’ Circus were
killed in a road accident.
Ashtons’ elephant Abu killed her handler Debbie Wirth
by crushing her with her trunk. Debbie was Abu’s second
Sole Brothers’ lion ‘tamer’ Joe Eronis,
received 80 stiches after being attacked by a lion. On another
occasion, Mr Eronis held a furious lion by the tail when the
lion threatened to leap from the cage into the audience.
Australian circus identity Stafford Bullen has, by his own
admission, been convicted of cruelty to a monkey whose chain
had become embedded in the flesh of the neck.
Worlds Greatest Circus Spectacular fined $4,000 on charges
of cruelty relating to cage sizes.
Circus Startime (later Circus Santos) found guilty of failing
to conform to cage regulations.
Edgley’s Circus bear ‘trainer’ pleaded guilty
Sole Brothers convicted of cruelty to a camel. Halter embedded
in the flesh of the nose.
Circus Royale proprietor Frank Gasser attacked by a lion.
Needed 64 stiches.
DECEMBER 1984- Eltham
Silvers Circus proprietors convicted of two counts of cruelty
to lion cubs. The cubs were unable to walk from malnutrition,
calcium deficiency, worms and mange.
Edgley’s Great Moscow Circus on Ice denied RSPCA access
when attempting to conduct routine inspection.
JANUARY 1986 – Richmond VIC
TV cameras witness employee of Perry’s and Bullens Combined
Circus throw a monkey at an Animal Liberation representative
attempting to inspect the animals.
MARCH 1986 – Melbourne
Circus Royale refused permission to RSPCA attempting to investigate
compliance with the Wildlife Act. VICT RSPCA now has powers
MARCH 1986 – Darwin NT
A camel with the Sole Brothers Circus was attacked by two
lions who escaped from their cage. Prior to attacking the
camel, the lions turned on their ‘trainer’ who
took refuge in a caravan after fending them off with an industrial
SEPTEMBER 1987 – Gunnedah NSW
Ashton’s elephant Abu killed her third victim, George
Littlejohn, who was a horse groom with the circus.
DECEMBER 1987 – Sydney NSW
The RSPCA ordered Edgley International to provide larger quarters
for the Moscow Circus’ brown bears after they were found
living in cramped and barren conditions.
DECEMBER 1987 – Sydney NSW
An animal ‘trainer’ from the Moscow Circus was
attacked by a bear used by the circus.
EASTER 1988 – Sydney NSW
An animal handler from Robert and Alby Perry’s Circus
was hospitalised after being mauled by a tiger used by the
AUGUST 1988 – Noosa Heads QLD
3 Camels with Ashtons’ Circus died after being grazed
on a property which had recently been sprayed with a poisonous
FEBRUARY 1989 – Moruya NSW
Ashtons’ lion keeper, Brett Hall, received 170 stiches
after being mauled by a tiger named Moscow, who had been reared
by the circus since birth. The tiger escaped from his cage
prior to this incident and was eventually recaptured by circus
hands using tent poles, cattle prods and a rope tied to his
APRIL 1990 – Melbourne VIC
The organisers of visiting French Circus Archaos were forced
to withdraw a live chicken from use in the show. The chicken
made her first appearance in the ring being dragged around
by the use of a heavy chain. Later a performer swung from
a rope with the chicken’s head in his mouth. Responding
to the demand for the act to be dropped from the circus, Mr
Pashalito stated “If you make some problem about that,
I swear I will kill one chicken for each of the 25 shows we
are here for”.
FEBRUARY 1991 – Ararat VIC
A group of lions belonging to Russells’ Free Circus
were released from their cages by an intoxicated man who had
been attending a nearby party. Four men including a police
officer were mauled before the lions were recaptured.
New South Wales Environment Minister Tim Moore announced that
Sole Brothers’ Circus would be refused a permit to import
9 ‘trained’ lions from Papua New Guinea. According
to the Minister, “Sole Brothers’ Circus has failed
to meet standards required under the Exhibited Animals Protection
Act and has been unable to demonstrate that the lions, if
imported, would be housed to the standards considered acceptable
in New South Wales”.
Jean Perry, a proprietor of Sole Brothers’ Circus wrote
to Minister Moore requesting that he overturn the above decision.
In her letter, Mrs Perry admitted that the circus’ existing
lions “are of an old age…and should have been
retired long ago”. Mrs Perry also attempted to mislead
the Minister when she claimed in her letter that animal liberation
groups “will protest” if a permit to import the
animals is refused.
MAY 1991 – Townsville QLD
A monkey belonging to Sole Brothers’ Circus was trampled
to death after falling from the back of a horse and being
dragged around the ring for 30 minutes, all in front of a
stunned audience. Commenting on the accident, circus owner,
Lindsay Sole stated “It’s like a rodeo rider;
he takes a chance of being killed”. When it was pointed
out that rodeo riders have a choice, Mr Sole added: “It’s
an animal isn’t it: what else would it be doing?”
APRIL 26 1997 – Perth WA
A visitor to Lennon Brothers’ Circus had one finger
bitten off and two others injured by a circus tiger when he
approached too close to the cage.
JULY 1998 – Helidon QLD
A macaque monkey owned by an animal ‘trainer’
from the Great Australian Circus, former circus owner Steve
Robinson, died after escaping from the cage and spending 5
days at large. The animal crawled into the yard of a private
dwelling adjoining Mr Robinsons’ property and died shortly
afterwards. The monkey was one of many who had been left for
months in their cages on the Helidon property, apparently
because they were considered to be redundant. No advice had
been issued to residents concerning the monkey’s escape.
Mr Robinson was on tour at the time.
AUGUST 5 1998 – Dumolly VIC
Perry Brothers’ elephant Ginny, fled into nearby bushland
after being frightened by a passing train. She was not located
and recaptured until the following day.
SEPTEMBER 1999 – Narre Warren
During a performance one of the elephants used by Ashtons’
Circus, Abu fell toward the audience after being pushed off
her pedestal by another elephant, Tanya.
A young girl is hurt whilst sitting in the audience at the
show when Abu, landed on her. She was taken to a medical centre
for x rays on her swollen arm.
AUGUST 11 2001- Penrith NSW
Lennon’s Circus. Lion ‘tamer’ Geoffrey Lennon
was attacked by three lions during a performance in Penrith.
The attack resulted in severe lacerations to the buttocks
requiring surgery. Many children were crying in a severely
distressed state after witnessing the attack. The owner of
the circus stated that he had no idea why the lions would
JULY 16 2003 – Adelaide’s Bonython Park.
A caravan owned by Stardust Circus was completely gutted by
a fire whilst in Adelaide’s Bonython Park. Two people
escape uninjured but a third man received burns to his shoulder.
No fire extinguishers were apparently available. Hoses and
buckets were used to quell the blaze until the fire appliances