Editor’s Fanfare Vol. IX, No. 3

The News From Europe is Disheartening

This issue has both good news and bad news to report.  First the bad news.   It comes to me in a letter from my friend Don Stacey of the UK who has written extensively about the circus and whom I meet up with every year at Monte Carlo.

His letter begins with a reference to my review of the latest Monte Carlo festival which he was unable to attend:  “I know you criticized the festival for not having elephants.  I know that to Americans elephants are essential for any circus.  But are you aware that elephant acts are now an endangered species in Europe?  Elephants, like wild animals, are banned now in many countries:  England, the Ukraine, France, Scandinavia and lots of others.  Germany will soon follow suit.  Already some cities have local bans on elephants and other types of wild animals. 

“Krone used to have 10 to 20 elephants in its shows.  Then they went down to 6 in recent years plus Colonel Joe.  More recently it is only two or three.  Last year it retired all its remaining elephants to zoos in Spain, Germany and Holland, but stupidly this winter it has brought back two elephants from Spain so that they can have one elephant in their winter shows in Munich.  The cost of bringing them back for the winter is astronomical and plain stupid, and they still get criticism of course for having one elephant in the ring.

“The elephant populations in circuses are now very old, and almost impossible to keep or present, thus even without a national ban the acts are dying out naturally wherever it is still allowed.  Soon there will be none to take anywhere, and Monaco has exhausted its sources.  It can hardly keep bringing back the same few it still can: i.e. only the Cassellys, Frankellos, Tognis are of the quality to present there. So don’t be surprised if elephants are no longer on the menu.  Expect wild animals not to be presented there in future years.

“Where can circus owners retire these animals now?  Zoos do not want old, often dangerous ones that eat a fortune in food every day.  Krone has about four or five cage acts still, but where can Martin Lacey send them when Germany bans them, as it surely will.  Shooting them is the only option I would think as they are too old to return to the wild, not that any of them were born in the wild.

“Paris has had many circuses as usual this winter, but most suffered greatly from the ongoing national strikes in Paris and France generally.  Last year was the same.  Cirque d’Hiver lost a fortune on cancelled shows.

“The future generally for circus is bleak.”

For the good news see the feature article, an interview with Kenneth Feld.