Years of attacks by animal rights activists couldn't stop Zippos circus touring with cats and budgies, but the evil clown craze has caused showman Martin Burton to call time on that other circus staple, clowns.
According to a report in The Sun, Burton fears the evil clown craze has stoked the fear of clowns to such proportions that he fears families would be put off buying tickets if they thought they'd see any red noses in the ring:
“The recent hijacking of clowns from comedy into horror, started by Stephen King and now adopted at Halloween horror mazes and in film around the world is simply not funny.
"I would like to make it clear to our visitors that Zippos Circus shows feature no clowns, in fact the 'red nose' has been redundant with us for a while - we prefer comic slapstick characters of the Charlie Chaplin style, but nonetheless we are concerned that families might be put off attending our circus, and robustly condemn these clown stalkers."
The press reports about Zippos' no-clown policy, however, are not strictly true. Zippos still features clowning in the form of Mr Lorenz, who may not wear a red nose or a scary mask, but still wears recognisable modern clown make-up including a white lip, and performs clown routines (as opposed to, say, stand up comedy or some form of non-clown funny business).
What we have, then, is a great example of a circus turning the bad clown publicity to it's advantage in the form of national advertising.
It still seems odd though that Burton, who is also the President of Clowns International and a former clown himself, appears to be distancing himself from the clowning profession he's supposed to represent. Is this an example of how badly the prankster clowns have unsettled the professionals?