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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Brisbane Lion's idea of parading caged lion draws flak

Some half a century ago – stage dramas were very popular – RS Manohar was extremely popular with his historic and puranic dramas.  The man hailed as Nadaga Kavalar was known for special effects on stage – and reportedly once proposed to bring a wild animal live on stage (the proposal was not approved by authorities)

So many Sports teams have Lions in their name .... news is rife about the approval given to Lahore Lions from Pakistan,  for participation in CL T20 to be held in India.  Karnataka Lions based in Bangalore, participated in  World Series Hockey. The team was  led by Indian hockey player Arjun Halappa and coached by former Indian captain Jude Felix.  There is the Highveld Lions - the name used by the combined Gauteng and North West first class cricket teams in South Africa. The Cameroon national football team, nicknamed in French Les Lions Indomptables (The Indomitable Lions), is the national team of Cameroon. They were the first African team to reach the quarter-final of the World Cup, in 1990, losing to England in extra time. They have also won four Africa Cup of Nations titles. The Lions (known as the Cats between the 1998 and 2006 seasons) are a South African professional rugby union team who compete in the Super Rugby competition. The Detroit Lions are a professional American football team based in Detroit, Michigan.

Then there is the Brisbane Lions which is in news – the club based in Brisbane, Queensland plays in the Australian Football League (AFL). The club was formed in 1996 from the merger of the Fitzroy Lions and the Brisbane Bears. Along with Geelong, it is the equal-most successful AFL club of the 21st century. The club is based at the Gabba is captained by Jed Adcock and is coached by Justin Leppitsch.

It is in news because - New club chief executive Greg Swann suggested pulling a caged lion around the ground to improve the match-day experience and boost attendances at The Gabba. RSPCA has called on the club to scrap the plan after being swamped with angry calls from the public. Swann responded late on Thursday, saying the idea was one of many that came up in discussions abotu improving the game-day experience next season “and it has found its way into the media.

Swann is later quoted as responding - “Animal welfare would always be the overwhelming priority in any such idea, but let me stress we are only at a conceptual stage at the moment. “With the lion set to feature prominently as part of our 2015 marketing campaign, and with the ‘old’ lion returning to the guernsey next season, we simply asked ourselves whether we might be able to add the ‘real thing’ to a match day experience. Given the reaction, they are mindful that people have strong views and that would be taken into consideration as they plan for next season. 

There has been strong response – one Organsiation said, “How we treat Brisbane Lions board members will depend on how they treat the lion. If they harass and humble a lion, we will do the same to them until they stop.”   While activists would not physically harm officials, they would target them and embarrass them in protests at meetings, functions and public gatherings. Some said this is 21st century Brisbane and not ancient Rome – drugging a lion and putting it in a cage to be paraded in front of screaming fans is ridiculous – and the animal could be too stressed.  Australia Zoo owners, the Irwin family, are ambassadors for the Brisbane Lions. Comment has been sought on whether they would be willing to provide an animal for the pre-match entertainment.

So the caged lion parade concept is dubbed dubious and smacked public criticism as a mere publicity stunt.  Lions chief executive Swann  is ridiculed for tasking one of his marketing flacks to investigate securing a live lion for a lap of honour before every home game. The idea is evidently in response to a push by AFL boss Gillon McLachlan for better off-field entertainment at games. While some clubs have stuck with the safety of middle-of-the-road options such as dancing troupes and music, Swann says the sight of a caged animal doing a lap of honour around the Gabba is a sure-fire way of getting the  fans involved.

Public opinion on animal welfare has significantly shifted during the past couple of decades as human development wreaks havoc among the animal kingdom. It is no longer regarded as the domain of non-meat eaters and militant animal activists. It's certainly no place for publicity-seeking football clubs and its promoters.

With regards – S. Sampthkumar

11th Sept. 2014.

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