Lion up for the circus

THE Circus is back in town, complete with clowns, performing animals, death-defying acrobats, and two cute new baby lion cubs.

The Stardust Circus was in Queanbeyan only eight months ago, but ringmaster Adam St James said bushfires in Victoria had forced the travelling troupe back north, with Queanbeyan residents set to benefit.

"We're normally here only every two or three years, but with the bushfires we had to find an alternative route- we were heading to Gippsland and Victoria. Queanbeyan's always been good to us, so we thought we'd come back for a return visit," he said.

Two new additions to the show are lion cubs Zaire and Zimbi, a dynamic brother/sister duo who are the 21st generation of Stardust Circus lions.

The cubs have been delighting circus goers and performers alike, and are proving quite a handful as they explore the circus compound.

"They're like little kids at the moment, getting up to mischief together. You don't leave your shoes around or they'll chew them to pieces," Mr St James laughed.

The cubs are currently nine weeks old, and won't start their circus training until they're eight months. After 12-18 months of training, they'll be able to join the show, which currently includes lions, , monkeys, ponies, performing dogs, performing pigs and goats, as well as around 30 human performers.

The cubs will be available for photos with circus goers however, and Mr St James said all the regular circus favourites would also be there.

"The show has changed slightly since we were last here, but there are all the old favourites like the clowns and the flying trapeze. And of course the animals are our big draw card- we've got the lions, monkeys, ponies, and we've now got performing pigs and goats, which is a new act.

"We're Australia's largest touring circus and largest animal circus, and being Stardust Circus, which has been touring for over 100 years, they're guaranteed of a top quality show," he said.

The Stardust Circus opens on Thursday February 14, and runs until Sunday, February 24. Check for times. To book tickets, visit the website or phone 0418 247 287, or purchase at the box office at Queanbeyan Showground one hour before each show.

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