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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 15 December 2018

Last Exit Dubai asks visiting circus to stop using lions following heavy criticism

The Latino Circus, which is stationed at Last Exit D89 Al Khawaneej until December 21, boasts that it features "white lions direct from Africa"

 The Latino Circus in Dubai has faced criticism over its use of animals in the production.
 The Latino Circus in Dubai has faced criticism over its use of animals in the production.

Dubai food truck park Last Exit D89 has asked a controversial travelling circus to remove lions from its show following a backlash from residents.

The Latino Circus, which boasts that it features "white lions direct from Africa", is currently stationed at the outlet in Al Khawaneej until December 21.

Last Exit, which is owned and operated by Meraas, Eventoh Em, the company running the circus, and Platinumlist.net, which sells tickets for the event, have faced a barrage of complaints from people who are unhappy with the use of wild animals in a circus show.

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Last Exit, which operates four venues across Dubai, confirmed to The National that it has now asked the circus to remove the lions.

“Our communities are at the core of what we do at Last Exit," it said in a statement.

"The animal acts in the circus at Last Exit Al Khawaneej have upset some members of our community.

"We care about and share their sentiments and have requested the operators of The Latino Circus to exclude all animal acts going forward. We will always listen to what our communities say as their feedback plays an integral role in shaping what we bring to Last Exit.”

Meraas came under heavy criticism for hosting The Latino Circus at Last Exit Al Khawaneej Dubai.
Meraas came under heavy criticism for hosting The Latino Circus at Last Exit Al Khawaneej Dubai.

They also said that they are still waiting for a response from Eventoh Em, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The National.

Samantha Robins, who posted about the circus on several Facebook groups to alert people about the event’s use of wild animals, said that although she is torn because the lions may now be confined to their cages until the troupe moves on later in the month, she is grateful to Last Exit.

“I am very grateful that Last Exit have listened to all of us who are opposed to the use of wild animals in circuses,” said Ms Robins, 33, from the UK.

“The bottom line is, whether they are perfectly healthy and groomed or not, these animals are spending their lives in cages, which is cruel and unethical and is considered animal abuse.”

The trailer park brand is the latest company to react since The National first reported on the public backlash against the troupe on Sunday.

On Monday, Platinumlist.net said it is looking into “contract exit clauses with the organiser,” following a request for a comment about its promotion of the show.

“We also feel that it is completely unethical and cruel to use animals in circus performances,” the company said in a statement.

However, the circus itself remains unrepentant.

Teddy Aouad, the manager of The Latino Circus, said on Sunday that critics should "mind their own business", adding that anyone who eats meat had no right to be opposed to the show.

A Facebook post by what appears to be The Latino Circus's lion tamer asking for positive reviews for the show. 
A Facebook post by what appears to be The Latino Circus's lion tamer asking for positive reviews for the show. 

In a Facebook post on Last Exit Dubai's Facebook page by Casey McCoy Cainan, who appears to be a lion tamer with the circus, it was claimed that the circus has no plans to carry out the request.

He also appealed for positive reviews to counter the criticism the troupe has received in recent days.

“Well I am being dragged [sic] back into FB to counter a bunch of animal rights activists that are attacking the review section of the location we are showing at this month," he said.

“If anyone with 30 free seconds could click on Last Exit's page and leave a good recommendation about the show it would be appreciated.

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“The property management has asked us to take the animals out of the show (which we have not and don’t plan to) but it would really help if we could balance out the bad reviews coming from people not here. Thanks in advance.”

The event has been the subject of discussion across several Facebook groups from people who are angry about the use of wild animals in the show.

Several members of the British Expats Dubai Facebook page said they replied to Mr Cainan’s post on the Last Exit Dubai page, but their posts were subsequently removed.

Last Exit Dubai disabled and removed the comment review section and turned off comments on its Facebook page.

The review section was later reinstated.

Animal rights groups say circus animals are regularly subjected to excessive and abusive methods to force them to perform tricks.