The Lawrence lions roar again

FUN FIND: Wayne McEwan with a Circus Carlos poster.
FUN FIND: Wayne McEwan with a Circus Carlos poster.

Invercargill magician Wayne McEwan grew up with the story of the lions who escaped from the Carlos' Circus in 1978, so he was thrilled when he found an original poster from the circus for sale.

He bought about 60 posters and had the magic-themed ones framed, along with the Carlos' Circus poster.

Keen to honour its history, he took the framed poster to the Otago Museum in Dunedin, where the lions Sultan and Sonia are displayed. McEwan said he discussed loaning the poster to the museum for a certain amount of time.

He grew up hearing the story of the lions' escape from the circus while it was in Lawrence, he said.

"I saw them as a child but when the circus got to Invercargill it only had one lion left who didn't want to do anything."

He also took the poster to Lawrence to show Clare Blackmore who has written a children's book about the escape.

She posted a picture on the site, saying it was exciting to see it in the hands of a real magician and to have another piece of the past secured.

The pair of 3-year-old lions escaped from the travelling circus on March 30, 1978 when the door of the exit tunnel was left open.

The trainers could not recapture them and the decision was made for the local constable to shoot them. The lions were gifted to the Otago Museum and a public appeal helped raise the funds to have them mounted.

The Southland Times