The circus, once considered to be The Greatest Show on Earth, has been faced with rough times in recent years. Gone are the days when the circus train is synonymous with magic and entertainment for the whole family—these days, people are much more likely to associate the big top show with brutal animal abuse and animals lashing out at trainers or even members of the audience.
But now, Germany’s Circus Roncalli has devised a way to keep the circus alive along with the animal magic it invokes. They have phased out the use of live animals almost entirely, instead using a dazzling of array of three-dimensional holographic projections for its one-of-a-kind show.
From wild horses that gallop within the circus ring to gigantic floating fishes and elephants standing on their two front feet, the show has amazed audiences with holograms that measure about 105 ft. (32 meters) wide to 16 ft. (five meters) tall—large enough to fill the circus tent.
The move has been greeted as a brilliant alternative to the controversial use of wild animals in traditional circus acts, not only because it employs the modern wonders of computer-generated imagery in a spectacular manner, but because no actual living beings are at risk of facing inhumane treatment in the run-up to the show.
Circus Roncalli had already done away with wild animals in the mid-1990s, but kept its horses and ponies until last year. Now, the show is entirely free of live animals—a choice that was made as much due to logistics as it was over concerns for the animals’ well being.
Markus Strobl, media director of Circus Roncalli, told German newspaper RP Online:
“We decided against having the animals for the benefit of the animals.
Most of the numbers in the show would already be done by the artists and clowns today, anyway. The focus of the Circus Roncalli is on poetic and acrobatic numbers.”
Indeed, the show largely revolves around humans—trapeze artists, tight-rope walkers, jugglers, and skaters of Roncalli’s Clown Company—who have impressed audiences with their comedy routines, optical illusions, and musical numbers since its founding in 1976 in Vienna, Austria.
Jan Creamer, president of Animal Defenders International, believes that Circus Roncalli’s unique way of delivering cruelty-free fun, thrills, and excitement is way ahead of the curve. The animal rights advocate told the Dodo:
“Thankfully the public is voting with their feet, and increasingly visiting shows where the performers get to choose instead of being forced to perform.
This is the future of circus—a performance everyone can enjoy and for which intelligent, sentient beings are not used and depicted as objects of entertainment”.