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So last night we took the family to see Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey: Zing Zang Zoom Circus which came to Phoenix, Arizona for a few days. I hadn’t been to a big circus since I was a young kid in New York, and my wife had never been to a large circus either. We were used to small time town and fair circuses where they have maybe 1 elephant or a single tiger.
My kids really enjoyed the show, the clown acts and dog acts were my kids favorites, I thought the circus was fun for the most part, though Cirque Du Soleil is much more entertaining in my opinion for adults. The human entertainment acts were enjoyable as were the various dogs and their tricks.
What I found difficult was the fact that there are multiple rings and you can’t focus on all three at the same time, so you are left really only watching 1 act while three are going on at the same time in some cases. The animal acts were also entertaining with the exception of the Tigers act.
My wife and I were mortified when we saw the Tiger act on stage, they bring out about a dozen tigers into a caged ring and a trainer with whips convinces the tigers to perform commands like sit, lay down, roll over…etc. The thing that is most disturbing is how clearly the Tigers are afraid and dislike the trainer and the whips, so much so they have to have people throw sand on the tigers from outside the catch to cover the fact that the tigers are spraying and urinating in fear and anger.
The tiger’s cringe and flinch whenever the trainer pokes at them, and when the Tiger does not want to participate they have someone poke the tiger with a metal pole from outside the cage. This was astonishing at what clearly appears to be abuse to make the tigers perform their “tricks”. We were witnessing what appeared to be animal cruelty and abuse, while the audience cheered the trainer on.
As the show ended my family was left with a bad taste in our mouths and we decided that we probably would not attend another Ringling Bros. circus again as we don’t want to support what goes on to condition these Tigers, which clearly are not treated very well, but the rest of the circus was entertaining.
Here is the slideshow from the Circus: