Monday, 4 September 2017
The fate of the traditional circus with animals has suffered another blow with Illinois becoming the first state in America to ban elephants from the big top.
The ban is due to take effect from January 1, 2018, which means the Kelly Miller Circus, currently touring the state, could be the last opportunity for locals to see jumbos in the ring.
The circus blamed campaigners such at the Humane Society for the ban and recently posted a video on its website showing how Cindy and Jenny, the two elephants on the road with them this year, are cared for by trainer Joey Frisco. The 35-year-old Frisco describes in the clip how he literally grew up alongside the two elephants, which are now 45 and 51-years-old. View it here.
"Animal rights extremists put their agenda through without letting the public know," Tavana Brown, general manager of the Kelly Miller Circus, said of the new law passed by the state House and Senate.
The circus insists it will return to Illinois next year, without elephants, but ringmistress Rebecca Ostrof warned the absense of the elephants - which form part of the Kelly Miller logo - could hurt ticket sales as it did for America's most famous circus, Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey, which was forced to close earlier this year after withdrawing its elephants in the face of local legislation in places like California that made it impossible to tour with them.
"They're part of our story," said Ostrof. "What did people want to go see at Ringling? They wanted to go see elephants. People really missed them."
For more on the story of elephants in the big top, including my visit to quite probably the last British circus to feature the giant beasts, pre-order the new edition of Circus Mania from Peter Owen Publishers by clicking here.
"A brilliant account of a vanishing art form."
-Mail on Sunday