MONTE CARLO, MONACO - JANUARY 18: Princess Stephanie of Monaco sits astride an elephant from the American circus troupe ahead of the 35th edition of the Monte-Carlo International Circus Festival on January 18, 2011 in Monte-Carlo, Monaco. The International Circus Festival will be held between January 20 to January 30, 2011. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)There is little doubting that British animal circuses are in the darkest days of their 244 year old existence. A ban on wild animals in circus in the UK seems imminent. Despite eventually agreeing to government enforced regulations - something the Association of Circus Proprietors have been pushing for over the past 20 years or so - the UK coalition government has issued a statement that it intends to ban the use of wild animals in circuses by 2015. In a outrageous ministerial statement the government has admitted they cannot enforce a ban based on a system of logic and rationality, science, so they now wish to proceed anyway and base their argument on "ethics". We will, no doubt, come to this very dark moment in British politics again on this blog.
Invented in the UK as a new type of equestrian show and eventually merged with wild animal menageries street theatre the traditional circus became a global phenomenon that captured the imagination of virtually every country in the world. It is part of Americana in the United States and has had a place in the hearts of Canadians and South Americans since the 19th century. In Japan huge six pole Big Tops cram in packed houses, as queues encircle the gigantic grounds that are booked for engagements that last months on end. Today animal circus is revered and protected as an art-form in most of Western Europe. Bans have encroached on some countries, such as Greece, where a cynic might regard this drastic piece of legislation to be something of a diversionary tactic when one considers the problems that particular country faces. However, in France, Spain and Italy the circus still stands strong and it is on that little principality set between France and Italy, Monaco, where the anonymous writer of this following reflective and heartfelt piece finds their inspiration...
Thank Heaven for H.S.H. Princess Stephanie and for her wonderful, wonderful Monte Carlo. Many thousands of English visitors are reported by the Monaco hotels to arrive every year for the annual circus festival.
In 2012 these visitors saw a ballerina trained rider standing on point on one foot on the head of a man who was standing across two fast cantering horses. They saw a tap dancing lion trainer carry a fully grown male lion around the circus ring on his shoulders.
In 2011 they saw a large African elephant with dazzling white tusks pick up a three year-old child to carry on his tusks around the ring. The gentleness and care that the animal demonstrated was a memorable sight.
It is sad, sad in England now the media and some MPs are so hand in glove with the Animal Rights movement. English children whose parents cannot afford to take them to Monte Carlo will never see the amazing spectacles and extraordinary communication between animals and humans.
Astley's Legacy was formed to counter the misinformation and propaganda spread by animal rights activists. As well as fighting the corner for circus animals and their trainers, we are here to promote and celebrate the cultural heritage of circus in general, and especially in the country of its birth - Great Britain. For more information please see our Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/223570581049199/