Circus Animals- A Barbaric Amusement

Circus etymology

Late Middle English (with reference to the arena of Roman antiquity): from Latin, ‘ring or circus’. The sense ‘ traveling company of performers’ dates from the late 18th century.

The Roman circus was in actuality the forerunner of the modern racetrack; the only common denominator between Roman and modern circuses is the word itself, circus, which means in Latin as in English, “circle”.

Origin of Circus

There is no well-formulated history of circus unlike other things like a ballet, opera, and movies. Although some elements can be traced back to ancient Rome.

The modern circus created in England by Philip Astley (1742-1814), a former cavalry Sergeant-Major turned showman. He is the father of the Modern Circle

By 1770, Apart from gymnasts, rope-dancers, and performers, apart from the Elizabethan theater, the clown was added to fill the silence during pauses between different acts. Later clowns became an essential part of the circus.

It is fundamentally a visual performing art and therefore freed by language barriers. Consequently, it is easily exportable to countries with native languages different from the linguistic(s) of the performers. Early circus companies and entrepreneurs like Thomas Cooke boarded on extensive international tours.

As time passed there was a lot of evolution of the performances with the end of Equestrian circus

Countries and circuses

The use of animals as a part of circuses to amuse or entertain with tricks has been mostly banned around. This was a heart-rending sport indeed. The complete list of the countries which banned it or limit the use of animals in it is long and extensive. So some countries around the globe still carry out circuses but within certain boundaries or limits.

The psychological effects of a circus are undeniable. Some people or important big wigs just want it to carry on despite the cruelty potent in it while others cannot bear to watch the cruelty of animals. This correlated with the fact that clowns might not make everyone smile!

I find I have to be the sad clown: laughing on the outside, crying on the inside

James Gandolfini

Skills or sports of a circus

The list of circus skills or sports is long but some of the important or widely known are shown

  • Acrobatics
  • Animal training
  • Artistic cycling
  • Balancing
  • Clown
  • Flying trapeze
  • Hand walking or balance
  • Hat manipulation
  • Human cannonball
  • Human pyramid
  • Knife throwing
  • Lasso
  • Unicycle
  • Wheel of death

Read Also: Dog Race| A Cruel Sport

Elements or parts of a circus

There are some parts or elements without which circus is not a circus. Some of them are listed below as shown.

  • The parade
  • Equestrian acts
  • Acts of skill
  • Circus families
  • Clowns
  • Wild Animals acts
  • The menagerie
  • Sideshows
  • Wild West shows
  • Circus music

Note that some of these are outdated or banned in times of today. Moreover there is some difference between them in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Training of animals in circuses

Animal training is the most despicable form of human madness. Some of the methods used to train animals to perform certain feats have a sad background. These are only some of the hidden methods behind the cheerful acts of these animals.

  • Bullhooks
  • Whips
  • Beating
  • Ropes
  • Chains or binds
  • Electric prods
  • Starvation
  • Cages

Animal Feed and Health

The animals are usually not given any special feed to cut the expenses but the feed requirement has been compensated with the harsh animal training as mentioned above. Some of the problems faced by the circus animals are enlisted as follows

  • Obesity
  • Arthritis
  • Starvation and Dehydration
  • Malnutrition
  • Sores
  • Scars
  • Burns
  • Tuberculosis
  • Genetic Defects
  • Zoochosis

Human and circus

Although it meant to be an amusement; it has transformed into hell for the animals. Now the important question is that what makes us different from the other life forms of this planet.

Our minds are caged while our thoughts are trained with whips and bullhooks much more severely than that of animal training so much so that we are not able to understand the difference between cruelty and amusement. Indeed; we are the ones and only circus ourselves, to begin with.

Although there are a lot of steps taken in this regard and some have proven fruitful but we have to deal with it with an iron hand!

Circus competitions

The competitions either locally or internationally limited but still have their own unique color and keep alive the art and history even in today’s times. There is still some joyful events around the globe like Festival New Generation among many others


This brings us to the conclusion. It is inevitably an important part of our history and culture. We have to know its importance. It is a form of animal cruelty. The origin of the circus is quite unique as well. We have to understand the difference between humans and animals as well.

Read Also: Bullfighting | A violent Sport

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