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Dead flying hamsters attached to balloons land on children as bizarre Russian circus trick backfires
Author: Kate Baklitskaya
Source: www.siberiantimes.com

Hamster Circus Rodents 'put in bottles and thrown to audience', claim protesters. Children were deeply upset by the alleged 'show' by a travelling circus troupe based in Krasnoyarsk.

Some parents claimed that the animals were also thrown in bottles into the crowd for people to catch. There were even claims that in some cases rats were used instead of hamsters.

The spectacle - seen in performances by the circus in different Russian cities - provoked a backlash, with animal-lovers organising a petition which has now gathered 34,000 signatures.

A spate of online accounts highlighted the alleged abuse of hamsters being lowered by balloon from high in the big top circus tent to children in the audience.

Yevgenia, a mother, said: 'My child really did get a small dead hamster. I want to complain about this. 'My daughter experienced huge stress. She cried for hours.'Another parent, called Svetlana, said:  'It was just torture,  throwing live hamsters straight into the crowd for kids to catch. Children pushed each other, someone stepped on a girl's hand and one hamster was crushed.'

A third mother from Smolensk said: 'They throw the hamsters from the top to the ground but also horizontally. They put hamsters in some sort of bottles and throw them so that kids have to catch them. It looks awful.'

The circus is based in Krasnoyarsk and stages tours all over Russia in a show called 'Parade-Allee'. The petition was organised by animal-lover Olga McManaman, from oil city Tyumen. 'I invite all animal lovers and caring people to protest against this outrageous practice of inhumane animal treatment,' she said.

She claimed a woman acting for the circus sought hamsters 'for free' to be used for presents for children in performances. Olga issued an appeal for people not to donate hamsters to the circus 'as they are mistreated'.

The circus said the performer responsible for the abuse had been 'punished'. 'We sincerely apologise to all kids and their parents who were upset,' said circus art director Yuriyi Karnaukhov. However, some comments from parents on websites suggest the 'flying hamster' routine may still continue.

I do not want anyone to be punished. I just want them to stop the abuse,' said Olga. I decided to start the petition to attract peoples attention.'

Viktor Donzhenko, head of Krasnoyarsk animal rights' group Friend, said: 'It is a horrible case of abuse and I am very happy that so many people signed the petition.'

He complained that Russia does not have laws protecting animals belonging to individual people. 'The owner of the animal can treat it as he wants as it's his property,' he said. 'We have been fighting to pass a law that protects the animals owned by people from abuse.'I hope this case will help not only to stop the cruelty with which the animals are treated in this particular circus, but also speed up a new law which will stop such things in the future.

'We strongly encourage people to stop visiting the performances of Parade-Allee circus. And not to donate the hamsters to the circus as they are obviously mistreated there.'

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