Your Guide to the Reality of Animal Circus

"The academic panel concluded that there appears to be little evidence to demonstrate that the welfare of animals kept in travelling circuses is any better or worse than that of animals kept in other captive environments" - Executive Summary of the DEFRA Circus Working Group 2007

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Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Thomas Chipperfield's Lion Training Video Diary (part 1)

To the public at large the training of wild animals in circuses is the biggest kept secret. This is, in no small way, due to the fierce competitiveness of animal trainers of the past. When circuses flourished circus skills, particularly those involving the training of animals were jealously guarded within families. Trainers for hire, like Clement Merk, were even known to put in certain cues with animals he
trained to help protect his livelihood from other lion trainers. However, times have changed and over the past four decades this outmoded mentality has worked against the industry. We live in a time when reality TV is the norm, non-celebrities garner huge attention through filming video diaries and social sites have promoted a virtual "right" for the general public to have access to material they would have accepted was a matter of business or personal privacy. The internet has become a virtual garden fence made at just the right height for a 21st century Hinge and Bracket routine. Hide something too much and you are often thought the worse. This is why "secret" societies like the Freemasons have had to endure ridiculous claims like they are really behind the running of the world via some imaginary shadow government or New World Order. Circuses are hit with a two-header in this instance. Due to Health and Safety laws and other legislation that came out during the '70s in some countries, such as Great Britain, the general public has become far less interactive with circus people and whole circus experience. Combine that with the professional secrecy angle and it prompts conspiratorial thinking on the behalf of the ignorant, no doubt aided tremendously by Animal Rights propaganda and, it has to be said, a handful of examples of bad animal training blown out of proportion. 

Thomas Chipperfield is one of the few of a new generation of animal trainers who recognizes the need to be more open. He understands that education is the only way for his ailing culture to survive. Perhaps harking back to the days of his Great-Uncle Dick Chipperfield, who warmly dedicated his autobiography "My Friends the Animals" to the general public, Thomas has started a YouTube video diary to show those genuinely interested in the training of wild animals how a circus lion act is trained step-by-step. Above is part one of this series.

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