Circus school risks losing prized pony over red tape
A Cairns circus school has been ordered to get rid of its beloved miniature horse or cop an enormous fine due to a bureaucratic technicality that puts it in the same class as a clydesdale.
The diminutive mount known affectionately as Jack in Boots is owned by CYCAS Circus in Bungalow.
He is a favourite at children's parties - a gentle and healthy little horse prone to wearing tutus that stands at knee-height despite being fully-grown at two years old.
CYCAS founder and director Patti Burnheim received a letter in the mail from Cairns Regional Council last week warning her to remove Jack from the property by the end of the month or face a $6500 fine.
"I don't know if someone complained, but they said it was not large enough for a horse," she said.
"They said there's no such thing as a miniature horse, but he's registered with the Miniature Horse Association and we have all his paperwork saying his parents and grandparents were miniature horses.
"He's not going to grow any bigger.
"The property backs onto a big park here which the council has allowed us to use.
"We have him grazing out there when the kids are here during class time."
It is not the first time the council has come out guns blazing over an itsy-bitsy steed.
Clifton Beach man John Whitehouse faced the same threats over his midget mare Mya in 2017, which sparked a petition from his neighbours urging the council to let the horse stay.
Ms Burnheim said she understood the council did not want to open the floodgates for every man and his dog to get a pet miniature horse in their backyard, but she pleaded for some special consideration.
"I have a circus school, I'm not just somebody on the street," she said.
"I'm more than willing to pay for a permit - that's what they do in Brisbane.
"I realise I probably won't win but I have to fight for the sake of the kids, my circus school, and little Jack.
"He won't know what to do if he's taken away."