Circus animals

A circus consists of:

  • animals
  • acrobats
  • clowns
  • magicians
  • and of course their acts, costumes, the circus tent, popcorn, sweet drinks, etc.

did I forget anything?

This is a recipe for a circus.

Yesterday my family watched two documentaries about circus families and their hard lifes – always struggling to keep things going, etc.

But why animals?

I had an insight:

The animals (which are particularly expensive and difficult to manage) are part of the circus, only because they are part of the “circus”.

That is, everyone running a circus just assumes “we’ve got to have animals”. (With the exception of the (hint!!) very succesful Cirque de Soleil and a couple of other circuses)

No one asks: but why do we have to have animals?

Historically speaking, a circus had animals, because these were exotic and an attraction to people. This is not particularly true anymore today – people are able to see animals in zoos, and they can watch YouTube videos about animals. Or they could just watch Felix Baumgartner doing a skyjump. That is what modern circuses are competing with.

A circus is about entertainment – and needs to evolve. Just as other things (for example computers, smartphones, our language) evolve to adjust to the current world we live in.

So why keep them?

So – why do we keep these animals? Because, once upon a time in the past, they had a role (to bring in more people into the show!). And we hope that they will keep their role, we hope that if we don’t change anything, if we keep things the same, that we will be able to replicate the success of the previous generations of circus directors.

But that is delusionary. And done on such a big scale!

Today there’s no need for animals in circuses anymore. Just yesterday, by the way, I visited such a circus without animals – the business idea behind this circus is to train kids in certain circus activities and set up shows for their parents (who will of course come and pay, bringing along siblings, etc. ) – such a nice twist on the traditional circus!

What are your animals?

In which ways do we have animals in our circuses today? Which activities do we cling to, which are actually unnecessary and expensive (emotionally and monetary …) ? Where do we allow past experiences and “recipes” to guide us without questioning them, at least occasionally?

Don’t forget – animals in some ways are also better off not being part of a circus – as it’s not something which comes naturally to them (they are basically forced to work for our entertainment in circuses).

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