Four years ago the Gold Coast City Council voted to ban circuses featuring exotic animals from performing on council-owned land, but the ban did not extend to private property.
The debate was heated, and councillors were evenly split on the issue at seven votes each.
Mayor Tom Tate used his casting vote and lifted the ban.
Prior to the council meeting, about 100 animal rights activists demonstrated outside Gold Coast City Council Chambers.
A group of former circus owners were also present.
RSPCA Qld spokesperson, Michael Beatty, said he urges the council to stand firm on its original decision and not allow circuses with exotic animals to perform on council land.
Though he said the RSPCA accepts the fact that the animals are born and captivity and may not be able to be returned to the wild, he believes the spectacle creates a negative image.
“Most circus employees genuinely love the animals and would do anything in their power to protect them from any premeditate or incidental cruelty,” he said.
“However, the public, children in particular, learn nothing beneficial or positive about these animals by seeing them perform tricks that are unnatural and bear no similarity to their behaviour in the wild.
“These animals should be moved to open plan zoos where they are able to express normal behaviours.”
Beatty added that the animals are caged, forced to live in cramped and unsuitable housing, and hauled around in “beast wagons”.
He said wild animals often show their distress through unnatural and abnormal behaviour such as swaying, bobbing and pacing.
“I am disappointed that Dawn Crichlow, a councillor who has always stood up for the ‘underdog’, has thrown her weight behind an effort to overturn the ban,” Beatty said.
“In this day and age, exotic animals have no place in a travelling circus. The Lion King is paraded as the Lion Jester, and that’s sad.”
Cr Crichlow did not respond to The Veterinarian by press time.