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On This Day …… 22nd June 1928

Alarm was caused in certain suburbs on the 22nd of June 1928, when a report was circulated that a lion had escaped from the Royal Park Zoo, Melbourne. A statement to that effect was said to have been broadcast by radio, but all the broadcasting stations gave it an emphatic denial. Attendants at the zoo and the proprietors of a circus in the city when communicated with visited the quarters of their lions, and found that none of the animals was missing. Nevertheless people in the areas surrounding the Royal Park Zoo and farther out remained at home for the evening. Tightly closing the doors of their houses, they equipped themselves with shotguns and other arms in the event of a visit from one of the carnivores. So far no lion has been seen.

 

On this day …….. 16th of December 1907

 

A sensational railway accident occurred at Dimboola on this night in 1907, resulting in the death of a valuable circus pony. The animals belonging to Wirth’s circus were being trucked when the points refused to act. This caused one of the truck to be thrown on to its side. The trick pony Fairy was thrown upon the metals, and had her neck broken. The animal was valued at £1,000. The truck was badly damaged. The elephants belonging to the circus lifted the truck back onto the line.

 

On this day …….. 15th of December 1905

During a performance of Wirth’s Circus at Warrnambool, on this day in 1905, a tent-pole fell and struck Doris Dunstan aged 14, the only daughter of Rev. T. D. Dunstan, Anglican clergyman. The girl was pinned to the ground as the big top partially collapsed. The girl died a couple of hours later.

On this day …….. 12th of December 1908

On the evening of the 12th of December 1908, Mr. Phillip Wirths of Wirths’ Circus, met with a painful accident. He was riding his favourite horse Bobs round the ring, and jumping through burning hoops held by the attendants. The rim of which struck him on the forehead, and threw him back on his horse, before he fell to the ground. Mr. Wirths, although severely burned about the face, courageously completed his performance.

 

On this day …….. 12th of December 1912

Eroni’s Circus has been staying in North East Victoria for a day or two, weather bound, and many of the horses have been greatly affected by the roaring of the wild animals in the menagerie. No doubt thinking they would be eaten, standing in their stalls trembling with fear. A horse owned by Thomas Haywood was badly affected, and was with difficulty made to do his work. Will passing the circus camp on this day in 1912, the horse caught sight of an elephant, and stop and trembled. After a few moments it dropped dead, evidently with fright The horse was valued at £20.

 

On this day …….. 4th of December 1886

Dangerous circus elephant

Abu, the circus elephant which crushed a 22-year-old woman to death on Thursday, will not be destroyed. The owners of Ashton’s Circus were allowed to decide Abu’s future after Victorian authorities decided that they did not have the power to order it to be destroyed. Circus clown Miss Debbie Wirth, 22, was killed when Abu grabbed her in its trunk while she was walking with the elephant at the circus site in Vermont South. Circus part-owner Mr Mervyn Ashton, said: “It is everybody’s decision, including Debbie’s parents and her fiancé, Douglas Quay, not to destroy Abu. We’ve had a great deal of support from a hell of a lot of local people who have come asking us to let Abu stay in the circus.” The Victorian Minister for Agriculture, Mr Kent, said existing legislation did not cover incidents in which circus animals killed an attendant.

On this day …….. 10th September 1952

More than 4000 people panicked when a lion escaped from a circus cage at the Shepparton Show, Central Victoria, on this day 1952. Adults knocked over children and women fainted in a wild scramble away from the lion, which was loose for 20 minutes. The lion ran to a clearing between circus, vans, then jumped on to the side of lion’s cage. Its attendants pushed a mobile cage towards the lion and had almost trapped it when it sprinted back to the clearing.

 

On this day …….. 9th September 1949

The “Murray bunyip” has been sighted again. Mr. Brian Blake, of St. Kilda,
who is visiting a relative in Wentworth, South West New South Wales, said he had seen the creature swimming in the Darling River, at the rear of the district hospital. He described it as being about 3ft. long with a thick neck and a strange-looking head. “I first saw it at night,” he said. “At first it looked like a dog with a shiny coat and long, drooping ears. “It dived under the water and stayed there for a long time. It made a noise like, a loud grunt.” The creature, “was also seen in the same place a couple of days later. Other people who saw it were Mr. Blake’s mother and two other women. Expert opinion is that the strange animal recently seen was a seal escaped from circus.

 

On This Day ……. 6th September 2012

Reports that lions escaped the visiting Lennon Bros Circus in Stawell, Western Victoria, have been exposed as a hoax. Social network website Facebook went into overdrive with rumours that a lion was on the loose around the town. Cheryl Lennon, manager of Lennon Bros Circus, said the reports are “far from the truth.” Mrs Lennon found out about the rumours after members of the circus were asked about the supposed escape when in the town’s main street. A caller rang Melbourne radio station 3AW’s Neil Mitchell program, claiming to be ‘Ash Lennon’ from the circus and said the lions had escaped. The caller gave out Mrs Lennon’s personal phone number to the radio station and she took the airwaves to dismiss the rumour. “I’ve clarified and confirmed that we have three lions laying here, catching a bit of sun,” Mrs Lennon said. Mrs Lennon believed the rumours had stemmed from the circus being cancelled Wednesday night due to bad weather. “What has happened is that we had a show due to start at 7pm and it was cancelled due to the wind. The wind lifted up the front entrance, the back door frame lifted off and my ticket stall fell over,” she said. “We made the call to evacuate people purely for their safety. We let people know that it was because of the weather and fully refunded their tickets.” Mrs Lennon said if a lion had escaped, the circus would have let authorities know immediately. “We certainly would be notifying authorities, such as the police and SES (State Emergency Service) first,” she said. This is not the first time the circus has had rumours about lions escaping from their enclosure. Mrs Lennon told The Stawell Times-News it had happened to her brother-in-law when they visited Cranbourne ‘but not to this extent.’ “A lady rang the council telling them a lion had escaped. It was far from the truth.” The circus re-assured members of the public the lions are not missing. “Believe me, trust me – they’re there. They’re not going anywhere,” Mrs Lennon said.

 

On this day …….. 17th of August 1937

Members of Perry Bros.’ Circus have operated’ on one of the elephants nine year-old Topsy, who was imported from India at the age of about four years for a poisoned foot, since the circus arrived in Brisbane. Although she is still hobbling about with half a sack of bran mash poultice on the injured foot, she is well on the way to recovery. Until it is completely healed Topsy is having a rest. No anaesthetic could be administered, so the trainer (Mr. Harry Rountree) just held Topsy down, and, assisted by a Brisbane veterinary surgeon, lanced the wound. Topsy struggled and bellowed a little, but like Androcles the lion, she seemed to know it was for her own good.

 

On This Day …… 22nd June 1928

Alarm was caused in certain suburbs on the 22nd of June 1928, when a report was circulated that a lion had escaped from the Royal Park Zoo, Melbourne. A statement to that effect was said to have been broadcast by radio, but all the broadcasting stations gave it an emphatic denial. Attendants at the zoo and the proprietors of a circus in the city when communicated with visited the quarters of their lions, and found that none of the animals was missing. Nevertheless people in the areas surrounding the Royal Park Zoo and farther out remained at home for the evening. Tightly closing the doors of their houses, they equipped themselves with shotguns and other arms in the event of a visit from one of the carnivores. So far no lion has been seen.

 

On this day …….. 4th May 1972

A runaway circus elephant charged a truck and tore up fencing in a four-hour chase across farms and along back roads in the Adelaide hills today. The elephant, Gi Gi, from the German National Circus, eventually surrendered quietly when her mother, Abu, and sister, Kinder, were led to her side. An earlier attempt to lure the runaway with the two other elephants failed when blasting at a pyrites mine sent Gi Gi running across the countryside again. Mr Merv Ashton, of Ashtons Circus, which was carrying Gi Gi for the National Circus, said Gi Gi had got out of a safety chain and had jumped from the back of a slowly-moving truck. Gi Gi, a 14-year-old Indian elephant, weighs three tons. Mr Ashton said she could run at between 30 and 40mph.