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Mamba Mia! Police halt elephants' illegal parade

Elephants on walkabout in Ballycastle
Elephants on walkabout in Ballycastle

By Lesley-Anne Henry

Two circus elephants may have to ‘pack their trunks’ after being reported to the Parades Commission.

Mamba and Mia, from the Sydney Circus, found themselves in trouble with the law after the PSNI branded their stroll through Bangor town centre an illegal parade.

Last Friday, the Indian elephants were led through the Co Down seaside resort as part of their daily exercise when police intervened and ordered them back into their trailer.

Circus director Alexander Scholl said he had never heard of the Parades Commission and was unaware of the formalities that had to be completed before a walk through a town.

Indeed the elephant owner described how he had previously walked his animals along the Shankill Road, through Lanark Way and into Belfast city centre — ironically one of Belfast’s most contentious routes.

“I had never heard of the Parades Commission. Two weeks ago I was in Belfast and walked with the elephants from the Shankill along Lanark Way right into Belfast and nobody said a word to me — not even the police. They said ‘hello’ and laughed. Only in Bangor did they say it was a problem.

“The police, with blue flashing lights, pulled us over and told us to put the elephants back in the cage.

“We were only giving the elephants a little bit of exercise. We did not know we had to ask for permission.

“The policeman was very nice, he just explained that we had to ask for permission to walk through Bangor.”

The German circus director insisted that Mia and Mamba, who were born in the circus, were not a danger to the public.

A PSNI spokeswoman said: “Police attended and spoke with the individuals concerned. The parade was halted and a report is being compiled for the Parades Commission.”

Meanwhile a Parades Commission spokesman said any prosecutions would be a matter for the PSNI.

“The PSNI did report the parade to us. It was an illegal parade because they had not notified us; however any matters to do with prosecution are the concern of the PSNI.”

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