Travelling circuses should be a thing of the past but sadly in most countries they are not. Recently a friend’s mother, travelling in the South of France, was enjoying her relaxing camping holiday when upon coming out of her accommodation she was faced with an overnight travelling circus. Booking her trip with a UK based travel company, she assumed that all forms of animal cruelty and abuse would not be promoted. To her shock this circus comes regularly to this campground in order to put on shows for the visitors. As it was during the day, the trucks were all parked around complete with strategic advertising, the caged animals clearly visible. An unavoidable presence. The circus in question – Cirque Floyd Landri.
Cirque Floyd Landri
According to their website the circus was founded in the 18th century and continues to bring “dreams” to the public every year. Travelling the country, they can hold 200 people in their big top and as well as the traditional series of acrobats they display a large number of exotic and wild animals. These include horses, ponies, llamas, Bactrian Camels, Watusi bull and Zebu, goats and baboons. Sadly this isn’t even the worst – there is a white lion and a tiger on display too.
Shere Khan and Simba mid performance Photo: Laonard Alain for La Montagne
During the day, prior to the performance, the animals are all visible for free around the tents. The herbivores chained up to graze whilst the lion and tiger have to resign themselves to a small trailer back. Miserable and forlorn it is unclear whether they actually are able to get out of these cages except when in the ring as our intrepid investigator was unable to find any evidence of an enclosure of some sort. Many circus tigers do get some active time in the ring itself prior to the show but research shows that this is far from adequate.
Photos: Jacqueline Hockley
Simba the lion arrived in June 2015 Photo: www.floyd-landri.fr
Meeting the cats
Our unintended investigator, in her desire to make this kind of situation known, proceeded to have a look around the circus camp paying particular attention to the two big cats. The two animals were being kept together in a highly inadequate trailer cage – minimal space, metal flooring, no natural substrate bar some scattered sawdust. Whilst they seemed to get along – there were no injuries to note and both cats seemed relaxed in each other’s presence, there was absolutely nothing for them to do. Captive animals should be provided with enrichment, a form of stimulus to encourage natural behaviour and to relive boredom and stress. Nothing of this kind was to be seen.
Simba the lion seemed a little more alert, staring about but not especially interactive. Well groomed, he seemed physically well taken care of. Shere Khan the Siberian tiger (both names taken from the website), was completely unresponsive and uninterested in our investigator’s attempts to chuff. Giving the benefit of the doubt here, it was daytime and big cats do sleep a lot. This routine would also be the norm, and it is to be assumed that there would always be a number of visitors hanging around the trailer on a daily basis. However, it is more than likely that the monotony of this routine and lack of proper exercise has resulted in this unresponsive behaviour.
The Travelling Circus Problem
Sadly, this type of thing is a regular occurrence in many European countries including our own UK. David Cameron assured the British public that by January 2015 a ban on circus animals would be put into effect. This has yet to occur. Scotland has put in place some legislation for a ban but it remains to be seen if and when the rest of the UK will follow.
Currently there are nearly 40 countries around the world that have placed a some kind of ban on animals performing in circuses. Some have a full animal ban; others have banned the usage of wild animals. Why is it taking so long for other countries to follow? In Britain it is clear that this kind of show is no longer tolerated with one circus even giving away tickets in order not to perform to an empty stage. It is high time that these depressing and archaic shows come to an end.
There are a multitude of animal welfare issues revolving around the use of any animal in a circus setting. For anyone considering visiting a circus, we urge you to simply avoid any that offer animal performances of any kind.