A CIRCUS is a company of performers who put on diverse entertainment
shows that include clowns , acrobats , trained animals, trapeze acts,
musicians , dancers , hoopers , tightrope walkers , jugglers ,
magicians , unicyclists , as well as other object manipulation and
stunt-oriented artists. The term 'circus' also describes the
performance which has followed various formats through its 250-year
Philip Astley is credited with being the 'father' of
the modern circus when he opened the first circus in 1768 in England.
A skilled equestrian, Astley demonstrated trick riding, riding in a
circle rather than a straight line as his rivals did, and thus chanced
on the format which was later named a 'circus'. In 1770 he hired
acrobats, tightrope walkers, jugglers and a clown to fill in the
pauses between acts. Performances developed significantly through the
next fifty years, with large-scale theatrical battle reenactments
becoming a significant feature. The 'traditional' format, whereby a
ringmaster introduces a varied selection of acts that mostly perform
choreographed acts to traditional music, developed in the latter part
of the 19th century and continued almost universally to be the main
style of circus up until the 1970s.
As styles of performance have developed since the time of Astley, so
too have the types of venues where these circuses have performed. The
earliest modern circuses were performed in open air structures with
limited covered seating. From the late 18th to late 19th century,
custom-made circus buildings (often wooden) were built with various
types of seating, a centre ring, and sometimes a stage. The
'traditional' large tents, commonly known as 'Big Tops' were
introduced in the mid-19th century as touring circuses superseded
static venues. These tents eventually became the most common venue and
remain so to the present day. Contemporary circuses perform in a
variety of venues including tents, theatres and casinos. Many circus
performances are still held in a ring usually 13 m (42 ft) in
diameter. This dimension was adopted by Astley in the late 18th
century as the minimum diameter that enabled an acrobatic horse rider
to stand upright on a cantering horse to perform their tricks.
Contemporary circus has been credited with reviving the circus
tradition since the 1980s when a number of groups introduced circus
based almost solely on human skills and which drew from other
performing art skills and styles.
* 1 Etymology
* 2 History
* 2.1 Origins
* 2.2 Modern format
* 2.2.1 Astley and early British circus
* 2.2.2 Ricketts and the first American circus
* 2.2.3 Expansion of American format
* 2.2.4 Touring
* 2.2.5 Russia
* 2.2.6 China
* 2.3 International awards
* 2.4 Contemporary types
* 3 Performance
* 3.1 Acts
* 3.2 Animal acts
* 3.2.1 Controversy
* 4 Buildings
* 5 In art, music, films, plays and books
* 6 See also
* 7 Notes
* 8 References
* 9 Further reading
* 10 External links
First attested in English 14th century, the word circus derives from
Latin circus, which is the romanization of the Greek κίρκος
(kirkos), itself a metathesis of the
Homeric Greek κρίκος
(krikos), meaning "circle" or "ring". In the book De Spectaculis
early Christian writer Tertullian claimed that the first circus games
were staged by the goddess Circe in honour of her father Helios, the
Sells Brothers Circus with Great Danes Play media Video
of a circus from 1954.
The modern and commonly held idea of a 'circus' is of a Big Top with
various acts providing entertainment therein. However, the history of
circuses is more complex, with historians disagreeing on its origin,
as well as revisions being done about the history due to the changing
nature of historical research, and the ongoing 'circus' phenomenon.
For many, circus history begins with Englishman
Philip Astley , while
for others its origins go back much further—to Roman times.
In Ancient Rome, the CIRCUS was a building for the exhibition of
horse and chariot races, equestrian shows, staged battles,
gladiatorial combat and displays of (and fights with) trained animals.
The circus of Rome were similar to the ancient Greek hippodromes ,
although circuses served varying purposes and differed in design and
construction, and for events that involved re-enactments of naval
battles, the circus was flooded with water. The Roman circus buildings
were, however, not circular but rectangular with semi circular ends.
The lower seats were reserved for persons of rank, There were also
various state boxes for the giver of the games and his friends. The
circus was the only public spectacle at which men and women were not
separated. Some circus historians such as
George Speaight have stated
"these performances may have taken place in the great arenas that were
called 'circuses' by the Romans, but it is a mistake to equate these
places, or the entertainments presented there, with the modern circus"
Others have argued that the lineage of the circus does go back to
the Roman 'circuses' and a chronology of circus related entertainment
can be traced from Roman times through medieval and renaissance
jesters, minstrels and troubadours to the late 18th century and the
time of Astley
The first circus in the city of Rome was the
Circus Maximus , in the
valley between the Palatine and Aventine hills. It was constructed
during the monarchy and, at first, built completely from wood. After
being rebuilt several times, the final version of the
could seat 250,000 people; it was built of stone and measured 400m in
length and 90m in width. Next in importance were the
Circus Neronis , from the notoriety which it obtained through
the Circensian pleasures of Nero. A fourth circus was constructed by
Maxentius ; its ruins have helped archaeologists reconstruct the Roman
For some time after the fall of Rome, large circus buildings fell out
of use as centres of mass entertainment. Instead, itinerant
performers, animal trainers and showmen travelled between towns
throughout Europe, performing at local fairs.
Astley And Early British Circus
Astley\'s Amphitheatre in London c.1808
The origin of the modern circus has been attributed to Philip Astley
, a cavalry officer from England who set up the first modern
amphitheatre for the display of horse riding tricks in Lambeth, London
on 4 April 1768. Astley did not originate trick horse riding, nor
was he first to introduce acts such as acrobats and clowns to the
English public, but he was the first to create a space where all these
acts were brought together to perform a show. Astley rode in a circle
rather than a straight line as his rivals did, and thus chanced on the
format of performing in a circle. Astley performed stunts in a 42 ft
diameter ring, which is the standard size used by circuses ever since.
Astley referred to the performance arena as a Circle and the building
as an amphitheatre but these were to later be known as a Circus. In
1770 Astley hired acrobats , tightrope walkers , jugglers and a clown
to fill in the pauses between acts.
Astley was followed by
Andrew Ducrow , whose feats of horsemanship
had much to do with establishing the traditions of the circus, which
were perpetuated by Henglers and Sangers celebrated shows in a later
generation. In England circuses were often held in purpose built
buildings in large cities, such as the London
Hippodrome , which was
built as a combination of the circus, the menagerie and the variety
theatre, where wild animals such as lions and elephants from time to
time appeared in the ring, and where convulsions of nature such as
floods, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions have been produced with an
extraordinary wealth of realistic display.
Joseph Grimaldi , the first
mainstream clown , had his first major role as Little
Clown in the
pantomime The Triumph of Mirth; or, Harlequin's Wedding in 1781. The
Royal Circus opened in London on 4 November 1782 by
Charles Dibdin and
his partner Charles Hughes. In 1782, Astley established the
Amphithéâtre Anglais in Paris, the first purpose-built circus in
France, followed by 18 other permanent circuses in cities throughout
Europe. Astley leased his Parisian circus to the Italian Antonio
Franconi in 1793. In 1826, the first circus took place under a canvas
Trapeze artists, in lithograph by Calvert Litho. Co.,
Ricketts And The First American Circus
John Bill Ricketts brought the first modern circus to
the United States. He began his theatrical career with Hughes Royal
Circus in London in the 1780s, and travelled from England in 1792 to
establish his first circus in
Philadelphia . The first circus building
in the US opened on April 3, 1793 in Philadelphia, where Ricketts gave
America's first complete circus performance. George Washington
attended a performance there later that season.
Expansion Of American Format
In the Americas during the first two decades of the 19th century, the
Circus of Pepin and Breschard toured from Montreal to Havana, building
circus theatres in many of the cities it visited.
Victor Pépin , a
native New Yorker, was the first American to operate a major circus
in the United States. Later the establishments of Purdy, Welch & Co.,
and of van Amburgh gave a wider popularity to the circus in the United
States. In 1825, Joshuah Purdy Brown was the first circus owner to use
a large canvas tent for the circus performance.
Circus pioneer Dan
Rice was the most famous pre-Civil War circus clown, popularizing
such expressions as "The One-
Horse Show" and "
Hey, Rube! ". The
American circus was revolutionized by
P. T. Barnum and William Cameron
Coup , who launched the travelling P. T. Barnum\'s Museum, Menagerie
Circus parade around tents, in lithograph by Gibson "> Lion
tamer , in lithograph by Gibson & Co., 1873
Following Barnum's death, his circus merged with that of James
Anthony Bailey , and travelled to Europe as the Barnum "> Painting
Arturo Michelena , c. 1891, depicting a backstage area
at the circus
Lenin , head of the
USSR , expressed a wish for the circus
to become 'the people's art-form', with facilities and status on par
with theatre, opera and ballet. The
USSR nationalized Russian
circuses. In 1927, the State University of
Circus and Variety Arts,
better known as the Moscow
Circus School, was established; performers
were trained using methods developed from the Soviet gymnastics
program. When the
Moscow State Circus company began international
tours in the 1950s, its levels of originality and artistic skill were
Circuses from China, drawing on Chinese traditions of acrobatics ,
Chinese State Circus are also popular touring acts.
International Circus Festival of Monte-Carlo has been held in
Monte Carlo since 1974 and was the first of many international awards
for circus performers. From the late 19th century through the first
half of the 20th century, travelling circuses were a major form of
spectator entertainment in the US and attracted huge attention
whenever they arrived in a city. After World War II, the popularity of
the circus declined as new forms of entertainment (such as television)
arrived and the public's tastes became more sophisticated. From the
1960s onward, circuses attracted growing criticism from animal rights
activists. Many circuses went out of business or were forced to merge
with other circus companies. Nonetheless, a good number of travelling
circuses are still active in various parts of the world, ranging from
small family enterprises to three-ring extravaganzas. Other companies
found new ways to draw in the public with innovative new approaches to
the circus form itself.
Cirque du Soleil performing
Vienna , 2004
Contemporary circus (originally known as nouveau cirque) is a recent
performing arts movement that originated in the 1970s in Australia,
Canada, France, the West Coast of the United States, and the United
Contemporary circus combines traditional circus skills and
theatrical techniques to convey a story or theme. Compared with the
traditional circus, the contemporary genre of circus tends to focus
more attention on the overall aesthetic impact, on character and story
development, and on the use of lighting design , original music, and
costume design to convey thematic or narrative content. For aesthetic
or economic reasons, contemporary circus productions may sometimes be
staged in theatres rather than in large outdoor tents.
Music used in
the production is often composed exclusively for that production, and
aesthetic influences are drawn as much from contemporary culture as
from circus history. Animal acts appear rarely in contemporary circus
in contrast to traditional circus where animal acts have been a
significant part of circus entertainment.
Early examples of nouveau cirque companies include:
Circus Oz ,
forged in Australia in 1978 from SoapBox
Circus and New Circus, both
founded in the early 1970s; the
Pickle Family Circus , founded in San
Francisco in 1975;
Ra-Ra Zoo in the UK in 1983,
Nofit State Circus in
Cirque du Soleil , founded in
Quebec in 1984; and
Archaos in 1986. More recent examples include:
Teatro ZinZanni ,
founded in Seattle in 1998; Quebec's
Cirque Éloize ; Les 7 doigts de
la main (also known as The 7 Fingers); and the West African Circus
Baobab in the late 1990s. The genre includes other circus troupes
such as the Vermont-based
Circus Smirkus (founded in 1987 by Rob
Mermin ), Le Cirque Imaginaire (later renamed Le Cirque Invisible,
both founded and directed by
Victoria Chaplin , daughter of Charlie
Chaplin ), the
Tiger Lillies , Dislocate, and Vulcana Women's Circus,
Jim Rose Circus is an interesting take on the sideshow .
Swedish contemporary circus company
Cirkus Cirkör was founded in
1995. U.S. Company PURE Cirkus was founded in the subgenre of "cirque
noir" in 2004, and in
Northern England , (United Kingdom), Skewed
Circus combines punk, rap, dance music, comedy, and stunts to deliver
"pop-circus" entertainment to young urban audiences.
The most conspicuous success story in the contemporary genre has been
Cirque du Soleil , the Canadian circus company whose estimated
annual revenue now exceeds US$810 million, and whose nouveau cirque
shows have been seen by nearly 90 million spectators in over 200
cities on five continents. Despite the contemporary circus' shift
toward more theatrical techniques and its emphasis on human rather
than animal performance, traditional circus companies still exist
alongside the new movement. Numerous circuses continue to maintain
animal performers, including Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey
UniverSoul Circus , and the
Big Apple Circus from the United
Circus Krone from Munich,
Circus Royale and Lennon Bros Circus
Vazquez Hermanos Circus , Circo Atayde Hermanos, and
Circus from Mexico, and
Italy, to name just a few.
Ticket Sale of
Sirkus Finlandia in
Jyväskylä , Finland
Fire breathers risk burns, both internal and external, as well as
poisoning in the pursuit of their art.
A traditional circus performance is often led by a ringmaster who has
a role similar to a
Master of Ceremonies . The ringmaster presents
performers, speaks to the audience, and generally keeps the show
moving. The activity of the circus traditionally takes place within a
ring; large circuses may have multiple rings, like the six-ringed
Moscow State Circus . A circus often travels with its own band, whose
instrumentation in the United States has traditionally included brass
instruments , drums, glockenspiel , and sometimes the distinctive
sound of the calliope .
Common acts include a variety of acrobatics , gymnastics (including
tumbling and trampoline ), aerial acts (such as trapeze , aerial silk
, corde lisse ), contortion , stilts , and a variety of other
Juggling is one of the most common acts in a circus; the
combination of juggling and gymnastics is called equilibristics and
include acts like plate spinning and the rolling globe . Acts like
these are some of the most common, and the most traditional. Clowns
are common to most circuses and are typically skilled in many circus
acts; "clowns getting into the act" is a very familiar theme in any
circus. Famous circus clowns have included Austin Miles , the
Fratellini Family ,
Rusty Russell ,
Emmett Kelly ,
Grock , and Bill
Daredevil stunt acts and sideshow acts are also parts of some circus
acts, these activities may include human cannonball , chapeaugraphy ,
fire eating , breathing , and dancing , knife throwing , magic shows ,
sword swallowing , or strongman . Famous sideshow performers include
Zip the Pinhead and
The Doll Family . A popular sideshow attraction
from the early 19th century was the flea circus , where fleas were
attached to props and viewed through a
Fresnel lens .
Female lion tamer and leopard. Elephants from Cole
Circus parade through downtown Los Angeles, 1953
Circus horse act
A variety of animals have historically been used in acts. While the
types of animals used vary from circus to circus, big cats , elephants
, horses , birds , sea lions , bears , and domestic animals such as
cats and dogs are the most common.
The earliest involvement of animals in circus was just the display of
exotic creatures in a menagerie . Going as far back as the early
eighteenth century, exotic animals were transported to North America
for display, and menageries were a popular form of entertainment. The
first true animals acts in the circus were equestrian acts. Soon
elephants and big cats were displayed as well. Isaac A. Van Amburgh
entered a cage with several big cats in 1833, and is generally
considered to be the first wild animal trainer in American circus
Mabel Stark was a famous female tiger-tamer.
Elephant act at a 2009 circus in
Pachuca , Hidalgo , Mexico. In
December 2014, as a response to reports of animal mistreatment, the
Mexican Congress passed a law banning the use of animals in any circus
in the country. The law set fines for violations and required
circuses to submit lists of the wildlife they possessed, which would
then be made available to zoos interested in taking the animals.
Animal welfare groups have documented many cases of animal cruelty in
the training of performing circus animals. The animal rights group
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) contends that
animals in circuses are frequently beaten into submission and that
physical abuse has always been the method for training circus animals.
According to PETA, although the US Animal Welfare Act does not permit
the use of electric shock prods, whips, hooks, or similar instruments
by trainers, these are still used today. According to PETA, during
an undercover investigation of Carson white-space:nowrap;">
Based on these findings, the researchers called for more stringent
regulation regarding the welfare of circus animals. In 2012, the Dutch
government announced a ban on the use of wild circus animals.
In testimony in
U.S. District Court in 2009, Ringling Bros. and
Barnum & Bailey
Kenneth Feld acknowledged that circus
elephants are struck behind the ears, under the chin and on their legs
with metal tipped prods, called bull hooks. Feld stated that these
practices are necessary to protect circus workers. Feld also
acknowledged that an elephant trainer was reprimanded for using an
electric shock device, known as a hot shot or electric prod, on an
elephant, which Feld also stated was appropriate practice. Feld denied
that any of these practices harm elephants. In its January 2010
verdict on the case, brought against Feld Entertainment International
by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals 'et
al.', the Court ruled that evidence against the circus company was
"not credible with regard to the allegations". In lieu of a USDA
hearing, Feld Entertainment Inc . (parent of Ringling Bros.) agreed to
pay an unprecedented $270,000 fine for violations of the Animal
Welfare Act that allegedly occurred between June 2007 and August 2011.
A 14-year litigation against the Ringling Bros. and Barnum ">
Circus building Paper postcard of the Old
In some towns, there are circus buildings where regular performances
are held. The best known are:
Blackpool Tower Circus
Circus Krone Building in
* Cirque d\'hiver, Paris
* Cirque Jules Verne in Amiens
* La Tohu in Montreal
Moscow Circus on Tsvetnoy Boulevard in Moscow
Shanghai Circus World in
Turkmen State Circus in
Circus in Riga
Circus in Bucharest
In other countries, purpose-built circus buildings still exist which
are no longer used as circuses, or are used for circus only
occasionally among a wider programme of events; for example, the
Circus Building) in Copenhagen, Denmark, Cirkus
in Stockholm, Sweden, or Carré
Theatre in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
IN ART, MUSIC, FILMS, PLAYS AND BOOKS
Circus music The Circus, by
Georges Seurat , painted
1891. Original in Musée d\'Orsay , Paris.
The atmosphere of the circus has served as a dramatic setting for
many musicians. The most famous circus theme song is called "Entrance
of the Gladiators ", and was composed in 1904 by Julius Fučík .
Other circus music includes "El Caballero", "Quality Plus", "Sunnyland
Waltzes", "The Storming of El Caney", "Pahjamah", "Bull Trombone",
"Big Time Boogie", "Royal Bridesmaid March", "The Baby
"Liberty Bell March", "Java", Strauss's "Radetsky March", and "Pageant
of Progress". A poster for
Pablo Fanque 's
Circus Royal, one of the
most popular circuses of Victorian England, inspired
John Lennon to
Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite! on
The Beatles ' album, Sgt.
Pepper\'s Lonely Hearts Club Band . The song title refers to William
Kite , a well-known circus performer in the 19th century. Producer
George Martin and
EMI engineers created the song's fairground
atmosphere by assembling a sound collage of collected recordings of
calliopes and fairground organs, which they cut into strips of various
lengths, threw into a box, and then mixed up and edited together
randomly, creating a long loop which was mixed into the final
production. Another traditional circus song is the John Philip Sousa
Stars and Stripes Forever ", which is played only to alert
circus performers of an emergency.
Plays set in a circus include the 1896 musical The
Circus Girl by
Lionel Monckton , Polly of the
Circus written in 1907 by Margaret Mayo
He Who Gets Slapped written by Russian
Leonid Andreyev 1916 and
later adapted into one of the first circus films, Katharina Knie
written in 1928 by
Carl Zuckmayer and adapted for the English stage in
1932 as Caravan by playwright Cecily Hamilton, the revue Big Top
Herbert Farjeon in 1942, Top of the Ladder written by
Tyrone Guthrie in 1950, Stop the World, I Want to Get Off written by
Anthony Newley in 1961, and Barnum with music by
Cy Coleman and lyrics
and book by
Mark Bramble , Roustabout: The Great
Circus Train Wreck
written by Jay Torrence in 2006.
Following World War I, circus films became popular. In 1924 He Who
Gets Slapped was the first film released by MGM ; in 1925 Sally of the
Sawdust (remade 1930), Variety, and Vaudeville were produced, followed
by The Devil's
Circus in 1926 and The
Circus starring Charlie Chaplin
4 Devils ; and Laugh
Clown Laugh in 1928. German
film Salto Mortale about trapeze artists was released in 1930 and
remade in the United States and released as
Trapeze starring Burt
Lancaster in 1956; in 1932
Freaks was released; Charlie Chan at the
Circus (USSR) and The Three Maxiums were released in 1936 and
At the Circus starring the
Marx Brothers and You Can't Cheat an Honest
Man in 1939.
Circus films continued to be popular during the Second
World War; films from this era included The Great Profile starring
John Barrymore (1940), the animated Disney film
Dumbo (1941), Road
The Wagons Roll at Night (1941) and Captive Wild Woman
Tromba, a film about a tiger trainer, was released in 1948. In 1952
Cecil B. de Mille 's Oscar-winning film The Greatest Show on Earth was
first shown. Released in 1953 were Man on a Tightrope and Ingmar
Bergman 's Gycklarnas afton (released as Sawdust and Tinsel in the
United States); these were followed by Life Is a Circus; Ring of Fear;
3 Ring Circus (1954) and
La Strada (1954), an Oscar-winning film by
Federico Fellini about a girl who is sold to a circus strongman.
Fellini made a second film set in the circus called The Clowns in
1970. Films about the circus made since 1959 include Disney's Toby
Tyler (1960), the
Circus of Horrors (also in 1960); the
musical film Billy Rose\'s Jumbo (1962); A Tiger Walks, a Disney film
about a tiger that escapes from the circus; and
Circus World (1964),
John Wayne .
Mera Naam Joker (1970) a Hindi drama film
Raj Kapoor which was about a clown who must make his
audience laugh at the cost of his own sorrows. In the film Jungle
Emperor Leo (1997), Leo's son Lune is captured and placed in a circus,
which burns down when a tiger knocks down a ring of fire while jumping
The TV series
Circus Humberto , based on the novel by
Eduard Bass ,
follows the history of the circus family Humberto between 1826 and
1924. The setting of the HBO television series
Carnivàle , which ran
from 2003 to 2005, is also largely set in a travelling circus. The
circus has also inspired many writers. Numerous books, both
non-fiction and fiction, have been published about circus life.
Notable examples of circus-based fiction include
Circus Humberto by
Eduard Bass ,
Cirque du Freak
Cirque du Freak by
Darren Shan , and Spangle by Gary
Jennings . The novel
Water for Elephants by
Sara Gruen tells the
fictional tale of a circus veterinarian and was made into a movie with
the same title , starring
Robert Pattinson and
Reese Witherspoon .
Circus is the central theme in comic books of
Super Commando Dhruva ,
an Indian comic book superhero. According to this series, Dhruva was
born and brought up in a fictional Indian circus called Jupiter
Circus. When a rival circus burnt down Jupiter Circus, killing
everyone in it, including Dhruva's parents, Dhruva vowed to become a
crime fighter. A circus-based television series called
Circus was also
telecast in India in 1989 on
DD National , starring
Shahrukh Khan as
the lead actor.
Chautauqua , tent shows that preceded American circus
Cirque du Soleil
Dog and pony show
List of circuses and circus owners
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* ^ "The history of circus in the US, \'\'HistoryMagazine\'\'".
History-magazine.com. Archived from the original on 2012-04-14.
* ^ A B "Wild things:
Mexico struggles to find new homes for
outlawed circus animals". Fox News Latino. Retrieved 19 May 2015.
* ^ "
Circus Incidents: Attacks, Abuse and Property Damage" (PDF).
Humane Society of the United States . 2004-06-01. Archived from the
original (PDF) on 2008-05-28. Retrieved 2008-05-23.
* ^ "Circuses". PETA.org. Retrieved 2012-04-20.
* ^ "Animal Welfare Act and Animal Welfare Regulations".
Nal.usda.gov. Retrieved 2012-04-20.
* ^ A B "Circuses: Three Rings of Abuse". Peta.org. Archived from
the original on 2010-07-26. Retrieved 2012-04-20.
* ^ "19 february 2008 – Projectvoorstel Ministerie LNV onderzoek
welzijn circusdieren" (PDF). 19 February 2008. Retrieved 19 April
* ^ "Dutch government announces ban on the use of wild animals in
circuses". 1 November 2012. Retrieved 19 April 2013.
Circus CEO says elephants are struck, but not hurt
* ^ Court Record, United States District Court for the District of
Columbia, Civil Action No 03-2006 (EGS)
* ^ Leigh Remizowski, "
USDA Fines Ringling Bros.
Treatment of Animals," CNN 29 November 2011.
* ^ Heath, Thomas (2014-05-16). "Ringling
Circus prevails in
14-year legal case; collects $16M from Humane Society, others". The
Washington Post . Retrieved 2017-06-12.
* ^ (1) Wang, Amy B (2017-01-15). "Animal activists finally have
something to applaud at Ringling Bros. circus: Its closure". The
Washington Post . Retrieved 2017-06-12. In 2015, Ringling Bros.
announced it would stop using elephants in its shows. The lumbering
mammals delivered their final performances last May — dancing,
spinning and standing on pedestals at the command of the ringmaster
— and then were retired to a reserve in central Florida. The move
exacerbated the show’s demise; the elephants’ departure ultimately
expedited what was a “difficult business decision.”
“Ringling Bros. ticket sales have been declining, but following the
transition of the elephants off the road, we saw an even more dramatic
Kenneth Feld said in a statement Saturday. “This, coupled
with high operating costs, made the circus an unsustainable business
for the company.”
(2) Brulliard, Karin (2017-05-21). "Thunderous applause, tears as the
‘greatest show on Earth’ takes a final bow". The Washington Post.
Retrieved 2017-06-12. ... Ringling had become the target of animal
protection groups that claimed it mistreated its elephants, and the
two sides soon locked in a 14-year legal battle so cutthroat it
involved secret informants paid by animal groups and a former CIA
official who was paid by Ringling’s parent company, Feld
Entertainment, to spy on activists and a journalist. The litigation
ended with several animal groups paying a $16 million settlement to
While the animal activists never prevailed against Ringling in court,
they were victorious outside. The allegations of elephant abuse
prompted municipalities around the country to ban elephant bullhooks
— a sharp metal tool used by handlers — or to prohibit wild animal
performances altogether, as
Los Angeles recently moved to do. After
Ringling retired its last pachyderms to a company-owned elephant
conservation center in Florida, ticket sales declined much more than
Feld expected, and the company announced in January that Ringling
would close for good. * ^ St. Petersburg Times (May 6, 1993).
Elephant incidents in recent years". Retrieved 19 April 2010.
* ^ "Hawthorn Corporation". Circuses.com.
* ^ "UK Politics Protect circus animals call". BBC News.
1998-10-26. Retrieved 2012-04-20.
* ^ "Wild Animals in Travelling Circuses: The Report of the
Chairman of the
Circus Working Group". UK Department for Environment,
Food and Rural Affairs. October 2007. Retrieved 24 February 2010.
* ^ "Anger after bill to ban wild animals in circuses is blocked by
MP Chris Chope". Bournemouth Echo. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
* ^ International., Animal Defenders. "Cameron urged to keep circus
ban promise as Conservative MP blocks bill for eighth time". Animal
Defenders International. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
* ^ International., Animal Defenders. "Worldwide circus bans".
Animal Defenders International. Retrieved 22 May 2017.
* ^ "
Elephant Rampages" (PDF). Circuses.com. Retrieved 2012-04-20.
* ^ "
Bolivia bans use of animals in circuses". Associated Press.
July 31, 2009. Retrieved 31 July 2009.
* ^ Berg, Emmett (2015-04-21). "
San Francisco board approves wild
animal performance ban".
Reuters . Retrieved 2017-06-23.
* ^ Good, Kate (2017-04-26). "
Los Angeles Bans Use of Wild Animals
for Entertainment". One Green Planet. Retrieved 2017-06-23.
* ^ Pacelle, Wayne (2017-06-21). "
New York City
New York City bans use of wild
animals in circuses". Retrieved 2017-06-23.
* ^ Greece bans animal circuses, Animal Defenders International
* ^ "FVE position on the use of animals in travelling circuses"
(PDF). Federation of Veterinarians of Europe. FVE/013/pos/007.
Federation of Veterinarians of Europe.
* ^ Winter, Stuart (2015-08-05). "Vets call for complete ban on
wild animal acts in circuses across Europe". Express.co.uk. Retrieved
* ^ "The Cirque Jules Verne Website". Cirquejulesverne.com.
* ^ Turner, Steve, "A Hard Day's Write." HarperCollins(1984).
* Assael, Brenda, "
Circus and Victorian Society", 2005, University
of Virginia Press, Charlottesville ISBN 0-8139-2340-9
* Croft-Cooke, Rupert and Cotes, Peter. 1976. Circus: A World
History. Elek. London ISBN 0-236-40051-7
* Johnson, William M. 1990. The Rose-Tinted Menagerie. Iridescent
* Nance, Susan. Entertaining Elephants: Animal Agency and the
Business of the American
Circus (Johns Hopkins University Press; 2013)
304 pages; elephants as "actors" or creatures of agency in the
American circus from 1800 to 1940.
* Speaight, George, "A History of the Circus" 1980, The Tantivy
Press, London ISBN 0-4980-2470-9
* Stoddart, Helen, "Rings of Desire:
Circus History and
Representation", 2000, Manchester University Press, Manchester ISBN
* This article incorporates text from a publication now in the
public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Circus". Encyclopædia
Britannica . 6 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 390–391.
* Adams, Katherine H. (2012). Women of the American Circus,
1880-1940. McFarland and Company, Inc., Publishers. ISBN 9780786472284
* Dfening, Fred D., III (November 2007). "The American
Circus in the
1870s: An Overview from Newspaper Sources". Bandwagon . Columbus,
Circus Historical Society. 51 (6): 4–60. ISSN 0005-4968 .
—provides an overview of "low-yield research" into the history of
Circus as covered in "ragcontent newspapers magazines
* Brooke, Bob (October–November 2001). "Step Right Up: Bob Brooke
presents the history of the circus in America". History Magazine.
* Simon, Linda. The Greatest Shows on Earth: A History of the Circus
(Reaktion Books, distributed by University of Chicago Press; 2014);
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