With Melbourne back in lockdown, many of us are dreading the prospect of having to do the same. But for animals in circuses, every day is a day in "iso".
Australia has two travelling circuses that continue to use exotic animals: Lennon Bros Circus and Stardust Circus. Both force an array of animals including lions and monkeys to travel across the country in tiny enclosures and perform humiliating tricks for a dwindling number of spectators.
These circuses proudly boast that they have never been prosecuted for animal abuse. They fail to mention that the RSPCA lobbies against our laws that allow circuses with exotic animals. With weak laws that fail to protect these animals, the authorities are not able to act or prosecute.
A review by the University of Bristol concluded it is impossible for circuses to meet the behavioural and welfare needs of exotic animals. Tiny enclosures deny these animals the ability to express their natural behaviours, causing the animals' extreme stress and frustration.
If you've ever seen a lion pacing in a cage, they are likely suffering from a psychological condition called "zoochosis". While this condition is related to animals kept in small enclosures in zoos, it's highly likely animals in circuses experience similar or potentially even worse. You see, in NSW a lion in a zoo, has to have a minimum enclosure size of 300m. By comparison, a lion in a circus gets just 20m for up to 11 months at a time - smaller than the average Australian lounge room. And for up to 18 hours a day they can be kept in even tinier "beast wagons".
Before lockdown, I attended a circus protest in Shellharbour. When I looked at the lion caged in a tiny wagon, no "King of the Jungle" stared back. All I saw were empty eyes and a broken spirit.
I for one am embarrassed that Australia is falling behind on the most basic animal protection laws by allowing this archaic and cruel industry to continue. There are 45 countries, along with 40 Australian councils, that have introduced bans on the use of animals in circuses.
After a parliamentary inquiry, NSW is lining up to follow the lead of the ACT and legislate a ban. I'm hoping we go a step further and provide funding so these animals can be retired to reputable sanctuaries.
Given the huge number of submissions to the Inquiry demanding an end to animal circuses, it's clear the community agrees. We must give that broken lion a vestige of the life that was stolen from him - and ensure no other animal is ever put in his place.
Emma Hurst is a NSW MP for the Animal Justice Party