THE battle over the use of exotic performing animals on the Gold Coast has become a full three-ring circus, with the RSPCA launching a grassroots campaign to keep a council-enforced ban in place.
RSPCA officials launched a petition in the Bulletin, opposing a vote to lift the three-year-old exclusion on circus animals performing on city land.
In an open letter to Gold Coast residents, the animal welfare group's chief executive Mark Townend urged people to get involved in the campaign.
He described the council's 2009 decision as "wonderfully historic".
"Exotic animals, although loved by circus owners, can never be properly cared for in a circus," the letter states.
"The council now plans to vote on overturning their decision, turning back the clock on animal welfare.
"There is no justification for the use of such animals in circuses."
The letter comes just a week before the council is set to vote on the ban on January 29, its first meeting of 2013.
Councillor Tracey Gilmore, a former vet, opposes lifting the ban but will be absent from the vote because councillors who cannot attend meetings are unable to absentee vote or vote by proxy.
However, Robina councillor Jan Grew will read a statement on Cr Gilmore's behalf noting her opposition.
"The Gold Coast prides itself as a futuristic city which is at the forefront of many initiatives and as a council we should not be taking this retrograde step and lifting the ban," she said.
The ban was introduced in 2009 by then-mayor Ron Clarke after receiving a letter from Animal Liberation Queensland. Its proposed lifting has the support of Southport councillor Dawn Crichlow.
Robinson's Family Circus, which does not use exotic animals, will perform at the council's Australia Day celebrations at Bundall on Saturday.
A protest will be held by Animal rights group Coast to Coast Animal Friends at Bundall's Evandale council chambers on January 29 from 11.30am to 1pm.
Lennon's Family Circus manager Warren Lennon said industry representatives would be on the Gold Coast for the vote.
"We would be pleased if the ban was lifted because it would allow real circuses to perform with animals again," he said.
"Our circus has a lot of experiences with animals including 12 generations all raised in captivity.
"Members of the circus industry, including retired performers, will be in town for the vote."
By Andrew Potts, Gold Coast News