A real kidnapping with circus goat taken from Gunalda camp
JOHN MacDonnell is proud to be keeping alive the traditional travelling country circus.
But Tuesday night, someone literally stole the show - or at least one of its major stars, a much-loved acrobatic boer goat called Coco Pops (after his white body and chocolate head).
Coco Pops performs the amazing balancing tricks that goats are made for, walking a 25mm timber "tight rope", leaping from pedestal to pedestal and readily making himself available for child admirers who want to give him a pat.
"I crack my whip a couple of times, because people expect that," Mr MacDonnell said.
But, as Coco Pops and his mate, Queen Elizabeth III, slept, balanced on the vehicle barrier perches around the circus' Gunalda camp site ("They don't like to get their feet wet," says Mr MacDonnell), someone apparently saw a kidnapping opportunity.
This has left her majesty the goat lonely and pining for her lost companion.
"She's partly a German breed and partly an English one, just like the Queen, so we named her Queen Elizabeth III," he explained.
Claiming to be Australia's longest-serving ringmaster, Mr MacDonnell takes his uniquely personal small-scale Eden Brothers Good Time Circus around some of the smallest towns and villages we have.
"We show all round this area," he said at Gunalda yesterday.
"In the last month and a half we've shown at Kenilworth, Imbil, Amamoor, Yandina, Pomona and Gunalda. In the past we've played at Chatsworth, Cooroy and Eumundi.
""We showed here on Friday night and we were off to Bauple, but the ground is too wet there, so we're off to Howard to show on Friday and Saturday night.
"When we showed at Amamoor, people said it was the first time a circus had ever come to their town."
Mr MacDonnell loves his animals, including two Rhesus monkeys, almost as much as the two mated goats love each other.
"I fed him at 9pm to give him a bedtime snack and about 5.45am I went to feed him breakfast and he wasn't there."