Saturday, October 3, 2009
New twist to saga of roving llamas as thieves steal them from pound

THE SAGA of the llamas and goats who escaped from a circus took a bizarre twist yesterday when they were stolen from the official animal pound in Co Meath, where they had been taken by the authorities.

Five llamas and three goats were stolen in the dead of night from the pound in Summerhill, Co Meath, where they were taken after running wild on Dublin’s M50 at Thursday lunchtime.

The thieves traversed eight fields, opened up ditches and travelled two kilometres on foot to the shed where the animals were being kept.

The animals were impounded on Thursday by South Dublin County Council who demanded €5,500 for their return. They transferred them to a pound owned by Local Authority Services Ltd which is sub-contracted by the council to look after stray animals.

Pound owner Joe Moran said he discovered the animals were missing at about 8am yesterday. He called in gardaí who are now investigating the theft.

“I was very surprised to see them gone,” he said. “Whoever took them walked them a considerable distance until they got them to the roadway. They obviously had some kind of transport.

“I can’t understand why anybody would want to steal them. They are not going to be easily hid, that’s for sure,” he said.

The animals belong to Australian Circus Sydney, who have been based at Tallaght for the last week. They escaped when their gate was left open on Thursday.

Circus owner Alexander Scholl denied that he had recaptured the animals himself and said he suspected animal rights activists.

Tamed llamas fetch between €2,500 and €3,000 each, but he says they are useless to anybody except a circus.

“My solicitor got this phone call from the council to say the animals were missing from the pound. We didn’t even know where they had been kept. The council never told me,” Mr Scholl said.

“Animal rights activists are against all circuses . . . Animal rights organisation in Dublin is very big and they can take horses, no problem to them.”

The circus has been targeted recently by the Animal Liberation Front Ireland. It slashed more than 90 of the circus’s posters in protest at its use of animals.

The circus has also been targeted by Alliance for Animal Rights in the past. Spokeswoman Bernie Wright denied snatching them, but said she believed Mr Scholl’s animals should be taken from him.

“We didn’t take them [the llamas and goats] even though we wish we had. No animal rights activists took them. They’d be too easily distinguishable and we’d have no place to put them.”

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