|Should circus animals be banned?|
News coverage of protests against circuses with animals frequently refer to a UK Government poll that showed 98% of people support a ban on animals in the circus. But how many people were actually asked and who were they?
The survey was apparently carried out during the year I was writing Circus Mania - a period in which I was visiting a lot of circuses and speaking to a lot of circus people - yet I didn’t hear about it. So the pollsters obviously weren’t standing outside circus tents soliciting the opinion of the circus-going public.
Would the results be different if they were?
Showman Silvio Zammit of Circo Orfei did just that, and has gathered 5000 signatures on a petition opposing a ban on circus animals in Malta.
Zammit argues that only 390 people took part in a Maltese government consultation, of which 49% said they were against animals in circuses.
Zammit admits he lacks the manpower to conduct a national survey and can only solicit signatures for his petition in towns where his circus is appearing.
But wouldn’t it be interesting if other circuses around the world did the same and pooled their petitions over a six month period?
Circus animals - a skeptic's story
I was brought up to believe that the idea of performing animals in the circus was wrong. It was the daredevilry of human performers in all-human shows that drew me into the world of the circus. But when I began writing Circus Mania I knew I would have to attend an animal circus to see a glimpse of circus tradition, because that was where the history lay.
It was with very mixed feelings that I attended the Great British Circus, Britain's last to feature tigers and elephants. But I watched the show, and others like it, inspected the animals backstage and interviewed animal trainers, current and retired, about their work.
I have written about my findings as an open-minded skeptic in The Guardian, the Daily Telegraph and The Stage. Read the results of my personal investigation into the world of circus animals in Circus Mania - The Ultimate Book For Anyone Who Dreamed of Running Away With The Circus.
Click here to buy Circus Mania from Amazon.
How the Mail on Sunday
reviewed Circus Mania
- Mail on Sunday
"The greatest show on earth... in a book!"
- World's Fair
Click here for my pictures of Thomas Chipperfield and the only big cats left in a British big top.