Activists have asked the Florida State Boxing Commission to stop a boxing match they say is illegal and cruel. The opponents are a kangaroo and the owner of a Central Florida circus.
The Rocky Show Circus is a travelling exhibition that is based in Kissimmee FL. The show features circus owner Javier Martinez who dresses up a kangaroo named Rocky in boxing trunks, puts him in a boxing ring and taunts the animal until he begins to fight back.
According to WFTV Martinez isn’t breaking any laws, but animal rights groups have begun protesting outside the circus because they believe forcing the kangaroo to fight is an act of cruelty.
PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) has gone a step farther saying the fights are illegal because every boxing match in Florida must be licensed. They have petitioned the Florida State Boxing Commission (FSBC) to stop the fight.
FSBC told PETA they only monitor human-to-human fights, but out of concern for the kangaroo, the commission contacted Florida Fish and Wildlife to intervene. FWC reported that Martinez has all of the correct permits, but they uncovered several citations given in the past to the circus by the USDA. One of those citations was “for failing to provide veterinary care and decent living conditions for the circus animals.”
Although The Rocky Show Circus is in good standing with the USDA, the agency decided to look into the matter further by sending a representative to watch one of Rocky’s fights.
A spokesperson for the USDA told the Metro Reporter, “Rocky was clearly stressed during shows, and had charged people during photo shoots, chewed on his own arm and attempted to flee the ring during the act.”
Research has also uncovered that at least two other kangaroos in the circus were “reported to have died while touring with the circus.” One is said to have suffered from a bacterial disease called “lumpy jaw” which can be caused by poor hygiene, overcrowded living conditions and stress.
Last year The Rocky Show Circus was asked to leave a festival in Texas after a major sponsor threatened to back out.
Even with this controversy Florida officials have their “hands tied” until Martinez commits another infraction they can act on. In the meantime PETA will continue to fight on behalf of Rocky.
Below is an amateur video filmed in 2009 of The Rocky Show Circus. Do you consider this act, animal cruelty?
Photo from flying cloud via flickr.