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Circus: Questions, Concerns, and a Selfish Act July 9, 2010

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

Despite the heat, Tim and I decided to go the circus last night. Even though I’d seen this circus at least three times before, Tim had never been. It was time.

I thought it would be hotter than ever under that big top. But actually, I think it was hotter every other time I’ve been. We had front-row ringside seats.

Perhaps the thing I find most fascinating about the circus is how very different a life it is from mine. Who are these people who join the circus? Who are the people who dream these things?: I want to be in a ring with six Siberian tigers and make them do tricks. I want to juggle many objects while also bouncing a ball on the top of my head. I want to make camels dance. I want to be a trapeze artist and hang from my toes while swinging high up and over the crowd. I want to be the pretty girl riding the elephant. I want to do twists and turns in the air as my father juggles me with his feet.

And then they do these things.

Are circus kids home schooled by their circus parents? Or do they just travel with the circus in the summer? If they do go to school, what do their classmates think of their young peers who are already in the circus? What is a high school reunion like? Does everyone want to know whatever happened to the circus kid? Or did they kind of hate that kid who was already some sort of star by age ten?

And the animals. What are they thinking? Are they happy enough to be cared for and fed? Are they depressed that they can’t run wild? Are they tired of doing the same tricks over and over again? How often does the whip actually touch them? Does a trainer initially have to be extremely cruel for training to work?

I worry about the elephants and the camels, who were a wonder to behold in the ring. The elephants were so physically close they could have killed us had they chosen to. Camels to me are simply fascinating and beautiful. The camel act was new, complete with belly dancers. The camels ran around the ring together and could spin around in circles. I was enthralled.

When I worry about elephants and camels, I worry that they might be depressed.

I worry most about the tigers. I am nervous every second tigers are out of the cage (in the caged ring). I can’t imagine being tiger trainer guy. The whole situation seems extremely dangerous and volatile. Tigers always look annoyed. They’re cats, for crying out loud. They enjoy playing with prey.

When I worry about tigers, I worry that they might be pissed off.

Frankly, the dogs seem pretty happy. Maybe I should be worried about them, but I’m not.

It was a delightful acrobatic show.

And for $5, I rode a camel for maybe two minutes.


1. Bridgett - July 9, 2010

We have a one ring circus that comes to town, Circus Flora, named for the elephant whose retirement is paid for by the proceeds. I don’t worry much about their animals–they have happy happy dogs and well groomed horses. And some goats (I never worry about their goats’ happiness either, they seemed pretty content). The few times I’ve been haven’t even involved walking past PETA folks protesting, as opposed to the bigger circuses that come to town.

But they don’t have tigers….

2. Craig (Maito Sewa Yoleme) - July 9, 2010

I worry most about the elephants. There have been a number of unprovoked elephant attacks in recent years (elephants in the wild, I mean; any attacks in the States are definitely provoked!), which tells me three things: there’s a deep, simmering anger over the way humans treat them; they communicate those feelings over great distances; and they are far more intelligent than we ever give them credit for.

That said, I feel as if I “know” elephants, even though I’ve only met a couple up close and personal, as it were. Dogs (domestic and wild), then elephants, then birds, then cats, in that order. There’s something about elephants’ liquid eyes. They speak volumes about their heart and mind.

But the only thing I know about camels is that they, like llamas, tend to spit at you when they’re feeling refractory.

3. Dona - July 9, 2010

I’ve been to the circus 3 times that I can recall. The first was when I was a teenager and we stopped at Baraboo’s Circus museum. A clown walked past my dad and complained about his job. The second on a field trip when I taught at a private school in Illinois and was the day after I discovered that a boyfriend was cheating on me. I was depressed and hungover. The third, and last time, was when my husband thought our young children should see a circus — some big one was in town. I spent it thinking about the other two circuses I’d been to and vowed to not ever go again.

I worry about the same things you worry about — kids and animals.
Actually I’ve had the same thoughts about Carnival people and their kids.

4. Lali - July 9, 2010

I used to go to the circus and not worry. I used to eat meat and not worry. Now I no longer go to the circus, and, though I still eat meat, I worry.

Question: does worrying make one a better person?

5. maureen - July 10, 2010

I got side-tracked when you mentioned camels. In fact, I always get sidetracked when someone mentions camels by visions of one-humped and two-humped camels getting it on. I have since you educated us on their mating habits several years ago.

Go camels go.

6. indigobunting - July 11, 2010

I’m sorry, mm, did you say something…?

mmmmmm, camels….

7. Mali - July 17, 2010

The elephants were the only things that scared me on safari.

8. indigobunting - July 17, 2010

M: They could have killed us if they’d chosen to.

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