Boswell Circus sues for R1m over film

2013-04-25 14:21
Shaheema Barodien
Durban – Circus owner Brian Boswell filed a R1m defamation lawsuit against Durban based documentary producer and animal rights activist Michael Almendro for an 11-minute documentary titled Tigers in Tutus.

The claim was lodged in the Pietermaritzburg High Court in December 2012 and was only recently publicised after the furore created by a 14 April episode of M-Net's investigative programme Carte Blanche, which featured undercover footage showing elephants, allegedly in the custody of Brian Boswell Circus, being severely beaten by trainers.

Tigers in Tutus, which can be viewed on YouTube, has had nearly 6 000 views to date since its release in August 2012. In his claim, Boswell states that the documentary suggests that the Brian Boswell Circus is cruel to its animals and is therefore defamatory.

'An abuse of the process of the court'

According to Almendro, Boswell was invited to comment on the issue prior to putting the documentary on YouTube for the purpose of inserting his side of the story into the documentary, but did not respond.

Almendro said he was issued with a lawyer's letter to apologise and remove the video in September 2012 - but refused to do so.

Georgina Boswell, who runs the Brian Boswell Circus, responded to the allegations on Jacaranda FM on Tuesday stating that they are regularly inspected by the NSPCA and claims that they have not had a single verbal or written complaint regarding animal abuse. She said the footage featured on Carte Blanche was an "isolated incident".

Boswell also said that their small family business was being unfairly targeted by the campaign to ban animals from circuses across South Africa.

Almendro, speaking to Channel24, said that there are many causes in South Africa that need attention and that the issue of animal cruelty practised at circuses was his cause.

Responding to Boswell's claim that the circus gave South Africans the opportunity to see wild animals up close, Almendro said: "You see these animals behaving unnaturally, being ridiculed and laughed at. It's just not right."

Court papers show that Almendro will argue the documentary constituted commentary and opinion in relation to the inherently cruel conduct of keeping wild animals in captivity for circus performances and that it was published in the public interest.

According to Almendro's attorney, Diaan Ellis, the claim for R1m is out of keeping with any reasonable claims for compensation. 

"Brian Boswell and Brian Boswell Circus (Pty) Ltd are clearly not seeking reasonable redress from any wrong done to them, but have artificially inflated the claim in an attempt to silence my client and to stifle public debate by attempting to destroy my client financially in public. Boswell's actions consequently constitute an abuse of the process of the court," said Ellis.

'Isolated incident'

Boswell have sought to assure the public that action has been taken action against the employees concerned.

Since the broadcast of the Carte Blanche episode, protests have been staged outside the Boswell Circus. The Circus is currently on show in Kempton Park until 5 May.

It has been reported that two major venues that provided their facilities to Brian Boswell Circus have now distanced themselves from the Circus and have taken the decision to no longer make their facilities available.

A Facebook page called Boycott Brian Boswell's Animal Circus has also been established.

The case is ongoing.


  • Alex Vorster - 2013-04-25 14:34


      Anthony Spruyt - 2013-04-25 15:42 Protest at Brian Boswell Circus in Kempton Park on Sunday.

      Chris Clark - 2013-04-26 14:18

      why ?

  • Nicky Charlton - 2013-04-25 14:34

    And everyone jumped on the bandwagon and screamed animal abuse!! Pick on something else people like crime, child abuse, Rape, Incest, Molestation...

      Gina Jardim - 2013-04-25 14:42

      Animal abuse is just as bad as any other abuse! There is NO need for the archaic and cruel practice of exploiting/abusing animals in circuses, etc. And for that matter, zoos are just as bad - why should animals be locked up in order to satisfy human curiosity? Even criminals in our world enjoy more rights. Disgraceful indeed!

      Siobhan Nel - 2013-04-25 14:48

      Hmmmm, I would have to disagree with you and say it is animal abuse. The way we treat our animals is seen in the way we treat each other and unfortunately we treat each terribly...Wild animals dont belong in the circus - they belong in an environment where we can appreciate their performance in their natural surroundings...but yes, this country does have many issues and hopefully through the continued fight we can conquer them one by one...If we can teach our children that animals are there to be loved and respected, maybe they will learn this applies to humans too.

      Jean Tredoux - 2013-04-25 14:54

      Nicky, think logically! Do you think that animal has only received abuse on that day/s and really just by this one person and that Boswell wasn't aware at all that this is how they trained the animals? I think they must target Mclaren Circus as well and see where the get their lions (birdy told me canned hunting) and how they train their lions as well... These people should be ashamed!

      Jacqui Daane Van Rensburg - 2013-04-25 15:10

      Nicky Charlton So animal abuse is fine with you?.

      Kim Dexter - 2013-04-25 15:12

      Nicky abuse to animals is a huge crime and if you cant see that then you are no better than the criminals out there. No animal should be chained and confined to small spaces.

      RSole Sole - 2013-04-25 15:15

      @Nicky: Stick your head back in the sand or whatever orifice you had it in and when you have an intelligent thought then you can pop it out again.

      Michael Almendro - 2013-04-25 18:44

      There are many issues ine very country that need peoples attention.. animals are one of them.. there are many people working on and addressing the other problems you mentioned.. some need to support other issues that are close to their heart.. all issues need the attention, we cant neglect an obvious problem because some people think that other problems are more important.. they are all equally important and deserving of our time.

      Cindy Lynette Midgley - 2013-04-25 18:45

      yeah well it all starts with the little things- if you can hurt an animal that is inclosed or chained what chance do they have? its the " little" things like torture of animals that people take so lightly and just a little thing like bible study at school or a child stealing a little sweetie that makes this world the way it is.. a little f%@*d up! Im on the bandwagon because people like you arnt!

      Greg Flook - 2013-04-25 19:13

      And this, people, is a prime example of what's wrong with the human race. Speciesism..

      Eloise Botha - 2013-04-25 22:36

      So what are you Nicky? The clown maybe?

      Eloise Botha - 2013-04-25 22:37

      Trying to hold on to your job?

      Kirsty Hofhuis - 2013-04-26 10:20

      Please dont generalise, I have never taken my child to an animal circus and I support animal causes hugely !! They didnt choose to be with the owners that mistreat them ! I also support anti crime and have set up an organisation to assist police and neighbourhood watches ! So whoever you are what exactly are YOU doing ? Let me guess commenting and nothing else ?

      Stefanie Greenhalgh - 2013-04-26 10:36

      I would like you to admit that you have seen the Carte Blanche footage of cruelty to the Elephants and tell us that you are happy to condone this sort of animal abuse. If not you are a coward or an idiot!!!!!

      Kim SaiyanPrincess Murison - 2013-04-26 10:41

      - protesting one kind of abuse does not trivialize another

      Jenni Davies - 2013-04-26 12:09

      Just because people protest against animal abuse, Nicky, doesn't mean that they don't ALSO protest other abuses! Don't assume that animal lovers are always only for animals. Yes, there are many things to protest, can we not protest them all? Besides, research has shown that people who perpetrate animal cruelty & abuse (including those that murder the neighbourhood pets) have other socilogical & behavioural problems as well. Btw: are you out there protesting crime, child abuse, rapists, molestation, etc? Or just an armchair critic?

      Rose McMillan - 2013-04-26 12:19

      Animals have no voice to protest about being abused, thats wht animal lovers are so quick to protest SHUT THE CIRCUS DOWN OR ONLY HAVE PEOPLE DOING ACTS

      Justin Aguy - 2013-04-26 13:19

      SO Nicky, what if it was Blaze that was in captivity and being abused by people? Would you still not care? Really?

  • Tersia Louw - 2013-04-25 14:36

    "She said the footage featured on Carte Blanche was an "isolated incident"." Sorry, Ms Boswell, incidents of cruelty to animals are not isolated. The perpetrator formed the intent and carried it out; people are cruel to those who can't, or for some reason won't, fight back, or they're not.

      Tommy Jones - 2013-04-25 16:19

      What was the isolated incident? I didn't watch CB and is really interested.

  • Colin Taylor - 2013-04-25 14:37

    A picture paints a thousand words... We live in the 21st century where concrete jungles are the norm and wild life sanctuaries battle to stay open. Land, trees and minerals are worth more than the animals apparently. An animals role in the Circus is outdated. It's not right for an animal to be treated like that. Wild animals belong in the wild and not under a tent or in a cage.

  • Jo Davies - 2013-04-25 14:39

    What rubbish this man speaks. The NSPCA have laid charges against him, citing what we saw on Carte Blanche. They are very far from happy.

      Mike Hill - 2013-04-25 14:45

      Lets face it. Using animals for our entertainment is a thing of the past. Viewing them in there natural environment is about as close as we should be to them.

  • Jaco Badenhorst - 2013-04-25 14:40

    I wonder why Brian Boswell doesn't try to sue Carte Blanche as well?

  • Susan Gunning - 2013-04-25 14:42

    no animals should be kept captive like that!!!! i saw some of the carte blanche program, and i was horrified. i actually could not watch it anymore. i wish someone would take those poor animals away and treat them with the respect they deserve!

  • Koo Doyle - 2013-04-25 14:46

    Exploiting animals is wrong. Full stop. BAN all animal acts in circuses.

  • Athena - 2013-04-25 14:49

    It is just not right. If you want to see wild animals, go to KNP or one of our beautiful National Parks. Then you can see animals in their natural environment doing what is natural to them.

  • Karmen Flemming - 2013-04-25 14:52

    Can't understand how Boswell can file a lawsuit on a documentary which is a series of recordings of the truth, public opinions (freedom of speech) and actual footage?

  • Debbie Otto - 2013-04-25 14:53

    I don't like to go to Circuses or Zoo's for that matter. To me it is not entertaining to see the way animals get treated for "entertaiment" or sit behind cages in the middle of the city for that matter.

  • Terence Wessels - 2013-04-25 14:54

    Anyone else think Mr Boswell is a bit arrogant? Won't help him, it will sway opinion against him even further. Rather shut up and fix the issues Mr Boswell.

  • Abner M. Mophethe - 2013-04-25 14:58

    what ever you guys say

      Jenni Davies - 2013-04-26 12:14

      If that's all you have to add, why did you bother?

  • Adam Leighton - 2013-04-25 15:06

    I cannot believe that a court will accept that this "isolated incident" was that isolated. Either the film maker go lucky and happened to be in the right place at the right time to film this once "isolated incident" or he was on a 50 year long stake out and finally got the evidence he was looking for. The bottom line, whether Boswell is guilty once or repeatedly is guilty of animal abuse, the abuse took place. Who is managing the staff and animal trainers? Accountability!!!

      Kim Dexter - 2013-04-25 16:05

      Adam, you are so right but these animals are not only being physically abused they are mentally abused every day by being chained up and kept in confined spaces. Can you imagine any humans mental state if they were chained up and caged for more than 20 year. Its mental abuse and the evidence is right in front for all to see.

  • Gareth Evans - 2013-04-25 15:07

    Sub Human Scum!! - Animal circuses have been banned the world over for precisely this reason. This imbecile is profiting off the slavery, imprisonment and punishment of wild animals in order to make money!! Its outrageous!!! Its blatant abuse and this white trash scum-bag should be arrested and put in prison. Get a real job you loser!!!

  • Jacqui Daane Van Rensburg - 2013-04-25 15:09

    Sure, run to the judge and demand money. It is heart breaking to think that such beautiful animals should be in the hands of despicable people. Boycott the darn lot. If we want to see animals up close we have enough places to do so without filling the pockets of has beens.

  • Erns Kleynhans - 2013-04-25 15:10

    I found that people that abuse animals, is also prone to abuse their own kind!

  • Hayley Fredericks - 2013-04-25 15:24!/georgina.boswell.779?fref=ts It's such a pity the lioness in her profile picture doesn't just snack nice and slowly for breakfast!

  • Lydon Daniel McGrane - 2013-04-25 15:25

    How stupid. Sue the documentary maker when you're very clearly in the wrong and in the process only make yourself look even more arrogant and make people dislike your operation even more? Epic fail. The circus should be shut down pronto.

  • Alan Street - 2013-04-25 15:30

    Fine Boswell family R10 million for their years of animal abuse. Bet they paid off the SPCA who have banned the selling of live frogs to fisherman!

  • Allan Ferguson - 2013-04-25 15:32

    Wild Animals belong in the wild and not a Circus or Zoo.

  • sxp - 2013-04-25 15:38

    I'll wait for the court to see the facts, rather than shouting about something which I know to little about.

      Greg Flook - 2013-04-25 19:12

      Alright I'll spell this out slowly so you can understand ANIMALS BELONG IN THE W-I-L-D , got that?

      Eloise Botha - 2013-04-25 22:30

      Why dont you just google the video footage.

  • Ann Padoa - 2013-04-25 15:39

    Animals belong in the wild, not in cages.

  • Tommy Jones - 2013-04-25 15:52

    Didn't watch CB, what was the "isolated incident".

  • Maria Trautmann - 2013-04-25 15:52

    In a fair world all wild animals would be running free in their natural undisturbed habitat! Now we all know this is not a fair world!! I agree that they should not be trained for our amusement! but they mentioned in the video that they were part of a herd that was culled at Kruger. They would not have been alive if it wasn't for the circus giving them a home! Are we going to start complaining about the giant rays and great whites in the Aquarium or animals in a zoo? How is this different? The animals in the circus at least are being interacted with! If South African's have this striking mentality why are we not all striking about the Rhino's that are being slaughtered? This is a much more dire cause than Boswell circus!!

      Siobhan Nel - 2013-04-26 10:49

      Is it right to say that they are least being interacted with because that's what wild animals are there for? Wild animals belong in the wild...not in a circus to be interacted with humans - thats why we have domesticated animals i.e dogs and cats to interact with us. And i have to disagree with you about the Rhino's - many people/companies are trying and working together worldwide to assist with this horrific slaughter or our Rhino's. The mentality of many South Africans is that we dont worry about the small things but maybe we should. Charity and change start at home and maybe once we able to handle and manage the small things we can start taking on bigger things and we would be far more successful with the bigger things...

  • Ruth van Zyl - 2013-04-25 16:13

    Isolated or not it should never have happened. It is in black and white so a case you have? I don't think so. It is a pity as I used to love the circus as a child. The lion park on the way to Durban left a lot to be desired, I took my grandchildren there once, won't do it again

  • Bradley Brits - 2013-04-25 16:29

    You are cruel to your animalsnand are disgusting human beings. I have bever bought a ticket to your circus because you abuse animals and will continue to not support you as long as animals feature in your acts. I hope you go bankrupt.

  • Liandra Bertolli - 2013-04-25 18:15

    if they were inspected by the spca from pmb or kloof its no wonder they found nothing wrong...

  • Martin Brink - 2013-04-25 18:16

    Any one here old enough to remember the propaganda photos where the photographer threw a handful of coins in a rubbishbin? Streetkids dived in to pick up and the photo was captioned we as a nation are starving our children? Or the fact that many unsoiphisticated blacks have no empathy with or for animals so maltreatment is the norm and not the exception? I personally would give the circus the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise, simply because the author of the documentary would go to any lengths to prove his viewpoint or his beliefs would be negated. 100 bucks can get you someone killed, so why not an animal maltreated? This case needs reasoned thinking. Even though I have decided not to have children in the New SA doesn't mean other peoples children need to be deprived of a circus experience because of untrustworthy media hype.

      Siobhan Nel - 2013-04-26 10:50

      I take it you didnt watch the PROOF on Carte Blanche?

  • Anita Vegan-Mahdessian - 2013-04-25 18:29

    I think suing people for speaking and showing the truth is Brian Boswell's desperate attempt to earn some money since more and more people are boycotting his cruel, vile and violent show. Well done, Michael Almendro, for exposing these evil animal tortures! And well done to everyone who boycotts Boswell (and any other circus who still (ab)uses animals in their shows.

  • Theo Van Rayner - 2013-04-25 18:29

    Michael Almendro should take his head out of his ass and adress the slaughtering of rhinos if he's such an animal lover

      Siobhan Nel - 2013-04-26 10:54

      So what you doing about the slaughtering of our rhinos? Surely if you are an animal lover different people address different forms of animal abuse? Many people/companies are trying and working together worldwide to assist with this horrific slaughter or our Rhino's...imagine if we put all our eggs into one basket and got EVERYONE to focus on the rhinos? What about the elephants in the circus or the fact that our wild lion population might be extinct in the next 10 years due to canned lion hunting? Different people have different passions for various animal welfare projects!

  • Deepchund Ramchurren - 2013-04-25 18:33

    What a lame excuse, "isolated incident". Boswells, accept you got caught out by Carte Blanche. In fairness to Boswells,invite Carte Blanche and show them how the animals are trained so that there is no "isolated incident".

  • TheCrow - 2013-04-25 18:51

    The political way in sa is used by brian. Basically, if u mess up, try to sue someone. Ask sharpiro

  • Cheryl Kristiansen - 2013-04-25 18:51

    To hell with them. i had reason to go to their farm in Meyerton and saw first hand how the animals were treated. the family lived RIGHT THERE and could not possibly not have known about the conditions. The elephants all had scars and medicines covering sores caused by being hit with sticks. the dogs were so starved for attention they would attack each other any time a person walked past. Animals were kept in stables all day. It was disgusting then and its disgusting now. Vote with your feet. STOP GOING TO CIRCUSES THAT HAVE ANIMALS!

  • Eloise Botha - 2013-04-25 22:27

    These are a bunch of idiots! This is not the first and only incident. If they had ANY talent, animals wont be a neccesity. Look at the best in the world, you see any animals there jumping through hoops? No you dont. Face your sins you freaks!

  • Alexandra Klein - 2013-04-26 07:10

    Please sign this petition:

  • Eric Summers - 2013-04-26 07:26

    Shut them down, this anachronistic and no-one wants to see this anymore (except in China, and that says it all)

  • Michelle Julia Bukaresti - 2013-04-26 10:20

    Oh Nicky please! You probably are someone that visits the circus! Yes Crime is serious and all the other topics you mentioned. But animals have no voice and what these circuses to to animals is no better than the other violent crimes in this country! Wild animals deserve to be free! Boswell, you are sick, an isolated incident that you got caught out on, please- how else do you 'train' an animal like a Wild Cat, you beat it until you break it down so much, that it will do anything you ask it too. You are all sick! BAN ALL ANIMALS IN THE CIRCUS SOUTH AFRICA!

  • Solveig Klahr - 2013-04-26 10:25

    Isolated incident or not, wild animals belong in their wild natural habitat. There they are not beaten with sticks, chained or caged. Beat, chain, cage and put people in to Tutus! Damn right that the Boswell brigade is hunted down like they did with witches. Animals do not belong in circuses, if man wants to entertain man, let them, butanimals don't want to because animals have a greater understanding of their own needs, which does not include low life man made entertainment activities! Ban animals in all circuses world wide. Lock up the Boswell animal trainers, they are low life creatures!

  • Lise Bambi Standring - 2013-04-26 10:25

    Wonder who the elephants can sue? Or all the animals for that matter - slavery, after all, is dead???

  • Stefanie Greenhalgh - 2013-04-26 10:30

    I have seen the footage on Carte Blanche and I think in this day and age it is disgraceful that this sort of practice should be allowed to continue. I only hope that the general public wake up to the fact that animals are being treated cruelly and stay away en masse. The only thing which will get the circus to change its policy towards including wild animals in their performance. Wild animals belong in the wild, NOT performing cheap and degrading tricks in the ring!

  • Matthew Ashley Newsum - 2013-04-26 10:32

    fingers crossed this creates a groundswell that ends circus animals constant torture!

  • Charon Bayly - 2013-04-26 10:35

    Gina Jardim, I agree with you. What I don't understand is that they keep defending themselves against the abuse and footage that was seen on Catre Blanche. When NSPCA does their inspection, are the elephants tied up to prevent them from moving freely like in the footage or are they in their cages? Do they have trainers working with the animals while they are there, hitting them like in the footage? I just don't get how they can justify that! No animal deserves to be abused, tied up to live in a cage!!!

  • Jeannette Van Vuuren - 2013-04-26 10:48

    Well done to Michael on producing a documentary that shows people what goes on and that elephants do not perform these tricks because they want too !!!! and because they are loved!!!! This is not the first time I have heard of Boswell sueing for defamation its seems if you speak out you are slapped with a lawsuit, is this perhaps meant to make people quiver in terror and keep quiet about what has been going on for a VERY long time!!!! Carte Blanche exposed whats happening and now the public know and are enraged! Again Michael well done on your documentary and there are a lot of people behind you!!!!!! just a question is Carte Blanche being sued too ??????

      Michael Almendro - 2013-04-26 18:40

      Lawyers said in daily news today that they had not been instucted along those lines, so it seems no?

  • Mirka Wessels - 2013-04-26 10:48

    Boswell group are going to lenghts to hide the truth. Unfortunately for them, there will be no hiding anymore! My advice to Boswell and co.; focus energy on developing new acts to replace the animal acts. The days of putting animals through torture for your own financial gain...are numbered!

  • Karien van der Westhuizen - 2013-04-26 11:49

    The bottomline is that wild animals do not belong in circuses, aquariums or zoos. It is inhumane, and current global sentiment strongly supports this. Boswell should rather spend the money on getting his circus with the times and developing great human acts to replace these enslaved animals!

  • Rose McMillan - 2013-04-26 12:14

    IF PEOPLE WANT TO SEE WILD ANIMALS GO TO THE ZOO, I feel that all animals should be banned from any circus, it is unnatural for lions and tigers to jump thro hoops and for elephants to stand on their front feet whilst lifting the rear ones, I have not been to a circus for about 20 years because of the animal acts.

  • Desree Turnbull - 2013-04-26 12:32

    As far as I am concerned no wild animals should be forced to perform to entertain, it is unnatural and stupid, and to force a wild born animal whose instinct is to hunt and roam to perform stupid tricks is beyond me. Have your circus with trapeze artists, clowns, juggling acts or so many other things but leave the animals alone, to be free in their natural environment. Yes it is abuse, an isolated incident, highly unlikely, they are just sorry they got caught.

  • Cynthia Christine Parry - 2013-04-26 12:46

    Put an end to the abuse these poor animals go through. I am disgusted in Brian Boswell and his shocking attitude. Lets stand up for these innocent animals and make sure they are put into a sanctuary somewhere.

  • Nicolene Potgieter - 2013-04-26 12:46

    my husband worked for Boswell Circus some years ago.He loves animals and helped Georgina with their training. He said that those animals are treated like family and are treated well. How ever I agree that animals in circuses are outdated.Ask Circue de Soleil. But what about zoos??? They are just as bad,at least animals in circuses get to see the world and get trained and get personal love,zoos are so much more inhumane!!