A friend of mine her Father, after too many hours straight in the tractor harvesting their Canola, swears that he sees a tiger. This of course would be possible if he was farming in Bangladesh, but this farm I speak of is located in outback Australia. A child could be excused for believing there to be a monster in the cupboard and a witch under the bed, but what happens when the fantastical comes to life?
I have long romanticized the idea of the circus (I even used to do trapeze school) and Iâ€™m not alone in dreaming of its magic. So I was nearly moved to tears last night when I heard the tale of the annual march of the elephants in Midtown, New York City. City kids squealing in delight and hyperventilating in disbelief at the sight of a caravan of elephants wandering along their street.
Each year, the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus, bring their â€˜Greatest Show on Earthâ€™ to Madison Square Gardens for a couple of weeks. Since first being able to afford transportation by train in the 1880s, the Barnum & Bailey Circus has continued to tour for 11 months of the year, all across America via rail. When the show arrives in New York, it unloads at the Long Island City rail yards and all the elephants are walked, in the dead of night, through the midtown tunnel and across 34th St, into the Gardens.
Personally, Iâ€™m not so up for a circus with animals, but I am pleased to find that this circus is making an effort. In 1995, the Barnum & Bailey Circus opened the Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida for the breeding, research, and retirement of its Asian Elephant herd (as they should). All dogs in the shows were rescued from animal shelters (as they should have been). The circus participates in breeding programs for endangered species used in the shows, including the Bengal tiger and elephant and their tiger population is retired to Big Cat Rescue.
It is with a tinge of sadness â€“ and probably the fault of an excess in cheap, entertainment options that we have now â€“ that I note that the circus magic that lit up generations before us, that era of the romance of the circus, seems to have drawn to a close. Itâ€™s expensive to upkeep and a tough gig to keep a circus on the road. But those elephants, wandering through the streets of New York City on Tuesday night, neednâ€™t worry so much. Their jobs are probably safe at the biggest circus in the world. And they have retirement to look forward to in Florida.
I am relieved that weâ€™ve evolved to not have women with beards on display for dollars and more and more circuses are refraining from using animals, but I have to admit that I would have loved to have stood on the sidewalk in the snow and watch an elephant pass me by on 34th St.
WORLD - CULTURE
Copyright © 2010 V
Baby Elephant Walk
Copyright © 2010 V
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