Monday, October 5, 2009

Llama Gate

The llamas have gone missing.

It all started last Thursday afternoon when a herd of six llamas and four goats (some of them pictured), escaped from a Dublin circus and ended up on the Red Cow Roundabout on the M50, about two kilometers from their pen.  The llamas were rounded up and taken into custody, with the South Dublin County Council demanding €5500 for their release. Now, in an additional twist, the council has admitted that five of the llamas and three of the goats have gone missing.

Seeing as I have llamas (pictured with my nieces) and they are putting a bizarre multi-roundabout chicane in at the bottom of my hill (the third one going in today, in fact), this just seems like my kind of story.

The llamas belong to Circus Sydney, formerly known as Australian Super Circus Sydney. The zoo has had escapes before (a wallaby got loose in Cork for a week in 2006), and had a relatively young (19 year old) elephant die in 2007. A lengthier list of incidents can be found here.

The circus has also been beaten down by the Advertising Standards Authority who found in 2008 that their advertisements were not entirely accurate in that they were not "Direct from Down Under", but, in fact, owned by a German family and permanently based in Ireland; that it was not their "first ever visit", but had been touring under that name since 2006, and that while claiming to tour with "three baby elephants and two adult elephants", only the two adults actually toured.

According to Irish Circuses the 2009 tour seems to have substituted llamas for elephants.

The owner, Alexander Scholl, was interviewed by Irish talk radio host Joe Duffy on his 'Liveline' show. The podcast really captures the zaniness of the whole incident in a nutshell and is worth listening to if for no other reason than to hear the Irish-German accent of the circus owner. The owner, defending himself, comes under attack by a radical animal rights activist, then the antagonistic owner of a rival Irish circus joins the fray, condemning Scholl's actions, only to come under fire himself by the animal rights activist. The altercation is as bizarrely hilarious as any Jerry Springer episode.

The missing llamas had been held in pound run by Joe Moran, who discovered the animals were missing on Friday morning. "I was very surprised to see them gone," he said. "I can't understand why anybody would want to steal them."

On going on without the llamas, Scholl said, "They're a big miss in the show. The show will go ahead without them. The show has to go on but they are one of the highlights for the people."

So, as it stands: llamas escaped, llamas captured, llamas stolen. I, for one, will sleep better tonight knowing that even without the llamas, the show will go on. Stay tuned for our next exciting episode.

Sources: (and again - Photo) (and again)
Google Maps
Circus Sydney (warning: annoying music)
Captive Animals
Irish Circuses
Podcasting Ireland

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