For several years now there has been a slow, inexorable push to ban wild animals from circuses. All animals, really. An Organization called LCA, (Last Chance for Animals) founded and run by ex-actor Chris deRose, now an animal activist, has worked hard to expose animal abuse by high profile organizations. As a a result of bringing to light the mistreatment of circus animals by Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey, that circus will be folding its tents and pulling stakes. On May 7, 2017, after a career that spanned 146 years, Ringling Brothers will be defunct.
Peru, Greece, Cyprus, Paraguay, Columbia, Netherlands, Guatemala, Slovenia, Bolivia and many other countries have banned wild animal circuses. Mexico ratified a law that prohibited the use of wild animals in circuses in March, 2015. The USA, which always seems to drag its ethical heels, has banned circus animal use in only 22 states.
Circo Royal was the first circus in Mexico to shun the use of animals and opened its tent flaps to reveal its new humanistic approach to Big Top entertainment in April, 2015. They recently set up in San Felipe for Semana Santa and are still here performing in the evenings, at 8:30.
I first experienced their showmanship six years ago, well before the national ban on circus animals. Even then I noticed a dramatic lack of fur-bearing beasts in their environment. There were a few domesticated samples, a pony and llama, but nothing feral or jungle-derived. Lions, tigers or bears? Oh, no.
Six years ago Circo Royal offered a respectable percentage of acts that courted traditional circus derring-do, --aerial acrobatics, dangerous balancing routines, hoop and plate spinning tricks, etc. Now most of the show is dedicated to entertaining children. Plushy costumes and clown antics dominate the curriculum. The vital statistics of the troupe themselves seem uneasily Dickensian. A grade-school aged contortionist and a boy who tumbled backwards off a tower both looked like they should have been in the audience eating cotton candy, rather than supporting the rigors of a circus life.
Now that the Semana Santa crowd has left, the circus is unlikely to linger long. So step right up, step right up.