Russian circus in Australia forced to drop live fish-swallowing act due to animal welfare laws

SYDNEY (AP) — A Russian circus touring Australia has dropped an act in which a performer swallows a live fish then regurgitates it after complaints that it was in poor taste and inhumane.

Great Moscow Circus general manager Greg Hall said Wednesday that the fish-gobbling part of the show was removed on Monday after the New South Wales state government informed it that the act breached animal protection laws.

The act was brought to the attention of authorities by some circus patrons who lodged official complaints about animal cruelty.

Hall said similar acts were performed in circuses around the world, but that the circus would revamp the act following the complaints and not use live fish for the Australian shows.

The state's Industry and Investment department said it had received a complaint and ordered the circus to discontinue the act.

"Circuses operating in New South Wales must comply with prescribed standards for the welfare of animals," the department said in a statement.

Animal welfare activists welcomed the decision.

"Scientific research has shown that fish are capable of suffering," said Glenys Oogjes, executive director of nongovernment group Animals Australia. "Circuses continue to claim that performing animal acts are educational. Far from educational, this was an inhumane and foolish act which reflected badly on the Moscow Circus."