Animal Free Circus
The circus is believed to have originated with the Romans as a show performance and games for their gods, in particular the sun god. The show included human feats like acrobatics, juggling, and staged battles. However, there were no animal acts in the original Roman circus. Exotic animals were only shown as display attractions to the circus audience.
The first animal act in the circus was believed to be the equestrian shows. Horse acts were performed and these later encouraged training of other animals to perform acts and tricks. Big cats like lions and tigers, monkeys, elephants and others made their appearance in the circus ring with their human trainers. Even in today’s modern world, there is something that catches our attention when animals perform human like actions on command.
But animal acts in the circus have received criticism following claims and allegations of cruel training practices. What might seem as extraordinary ingenuity in an animal might actually be the product of starvation, abuse, and other negative reinforcements. In addition, opinions have been divided as to whether animal acts in circuses contribute meaningfully to education, conservation, and understanding of animals.
Because of this, “nouveau cirque” or contemporary circuses lean toward featuring only human feats and skills, without animal acts. Modern circuses rely on the human body’s amazing capabilities to surprise, express, and perform. The best example of the nouveau cirque’s influence is the huge success of Cirque du Soleil, a worldwide acclaimed circus troupe that reportedly generates over C$800 million in income annually. Cirque du Soleil made its mark as a modern circus not only by excluding animal acts in its shows, but through a combination of creative circus shows and street performances. Its visually stimulating performances have received several awards over the years. Cirque du Soleil proves that the much-loved circus show can shine without using animals as attraction. Other circuses in theUS and around the world also make a stand against using animals in the circus. Check out these animal-free circuses:
The Mexican International Circus After the owner of the circus was reportedly attacked by seven lions (and almost lost his arm), the Mexican International Circus discontinued use of animals in its shows. The circus not only makes a stand against animal acts in shows, but also donates parts of pre-sold ticket profits to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
The Great Y Circus (The All American Youth Circus) The Great Y focuses on showcasing the youths’ gifts and skills, instead of using animal shows to attract audiences. No animals are used in any of their performances, adding that “The only “animals” you’ll find here are the kids we dress up in costumes to look like them!” Romantic young people who have dreams about running away with the circus will certainly find a spot in the Great Y Circus. Young performers are trained by circus professionals, carrying on the tradition of the circus arts to the next generations.
Earth Circus The circus is renowned for its unique lumi light acts, fire acts, and other circus feats without use of animals in any of the performances. Computer programmed lighting in the acts and interactive performers make for a truly modern, memorable experience.
Circus Oz This unique circus combines modern elements like rock n roll and theater along with circus acts to make a great show. Aside from making a stand against animal use in circus performances, Circus Oz also supports social justice agendas like women’s rights and plights of asylum seekers and refugees among others.
The nostalgia and tradition of the circus will always draw people to the big tents and stages. However, it may be time to end the practice of using and forcing animals to perform in circus shows. The amazing capabilities of the human body and mind are after all the key ingredients in the best shows. For more animal-free circuses, please visit BornFreeUSA, ZooCheck, and CaptiveAnimals.org’s lists.
Photo Credit: Some rights reserved by Joe Shlabotnik on Flickr.
Reasons to JOIN US include:
- It's absolutely FREE!
- Get Green Tips You MUST know about.
- How to's on going green, saving money, and having fun.
- Keep up-to-date on our posts in cased you missed them.