|Man and beast in purr-fect harmony|
Alex Lacey and one of his cats*
In the world of circus, every country has its own speciality. Flying trapeze troupes often come from South America, and springboard acts from Hungary. Britain is most renowned for animal trainers and clowns - ironically, considering this country’s antipathy towards Joeys and circuses with animals.
|Ringling star Alex Lacey|
Lacey, who is presenting five lions, six tigers and a leopard, is the son of British circus trainers Martin Lacey and Susan Lacey and grew up in a house where tiger cubs roamed wild.
He was quoted in a Philadelphia newspaper as saying, “My parents loved interacting with the animals. The secret to being an animal trainer is being able to communicate with them... to find out what they like to do. Some cats are good at a couple of movements and some are good at other things. They’re all good at their own things.”
- read about his
Great British Circus
in Circus Mania
I’d become fascinated by the daredevilry of human performers after meeting aerial silk artist Eva Garcia just days before she fell and died during a performance at the Great Yarmouth Hippodrome. After that I’d taken every opportunity to review circus shows and interview the performers. But all the circuses I’d seen up to that point were modern all-human shows.
When news broke that the Great British Circus was bringing elephants back to the British big top for the first time in a decade, it was amid a blaze of negative publicity. Animal rights protesters were up in arms. But the pictures of the elephants called to me with the promise of a glimpse into an earlier and more circus tradition that I’d witnessed so far, because it was with the trick horse-riding of Phillip Astley that the modern circus began, nearly 250 years ago.
I went along with mixed feelings, because like many people I’d been brought up with the belief that training animals to perform was wrong or cruel. But sitting in a real big top, watching the elephants, horses and Martin Lacey’s tigers told me there was a much more complex story to be told.
Read my personal journey through the circus world, talking to animal trainers, trapeze stars, clowns, sword-swallowers and showmen in Circus Mania, what the Mail on Sunday called “A brilliant account of a vanishing art form.”
Click here to read half a dozen 5-star customer reviews of Circus Mania on Amazon.
|Alex Lacey relaxing with the big cats|
a picture from My Life With Lions
by Martin Lacey
|Last chance to see...|
Britain's only big cat act
Thomas Chipperfield at
Peter Jolly's Circus
What happens to circus tigers when they retire? Click here to find out.