The last time I went to a circus was in the UK back in 2012. There were plenty of acrobats, gymnasts, attractive people in leotards and one clown who looked like his was regretting every life choice he’d ever made. One thing I didn’t see was an animal.
Thankfully in 2018 the use of animals in circuses in a thing of the past – an archaic relic from a more naive time when incredible and often endangered creatures would be exploited for a cheap performance. In many western cultures, we have learned to appreciate the beauty of these creatures, instead of putting them through all sorts distress and making them balance on a ball.
The long-distance traveling, confined living spaces, training techniques (often abusive) and pressure to perform can all attribute to their distress.
Sadly, however, the use of wild animals in traveling circuses is still not illegal in the US and England, but there are many guidelines in place to protect the welfare of these creatures.
One country where wild animals are definitely used for tourist culture is Vietnam. From tigers to elephants to crocodiles, many Asian countries still believe it’s okay to force these powerful wild animals to perform at the crack of a whip.
However, this is the moment one performer quickly regretted running away to join the circus.
Captured on a cell phone video in Vietnam’s Ha Nam province, it shows the moment a circus performer placed his head into the open mouth of “trained” crocodile as a part of his act.
But it quickly goes very wrong for the man, as the large reptile clamps down on his trainer’s head and begins the thrash. (It’s almost as if people shouldn’t put their heads into a crocodile’s mouth.)
Check out the disturbing scene for yourself:
The trainer may have been able to escape the jaws of the beast, but he was left covered in blood from puncture wounds and torn cheeks, and clearly in distress.
The Ha Nam Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism had invited the unnamed circus troupe to put on their show in Liem Can, said the area’s administration chairman Pham Van Do. He added:
“It is fortunate that it was only a soft wound. The performer is being cared for at Ha Nam General Hospital, and his health has already got better with no sign of a life-threatening condition.”
The circus troupe had been forced to use a younger, inexperienced crocodile after their old standby died earlier that day. I call it karma. He was treated at a local medial facility.
This particular trick is common amongst those who perform with crocodiles. Crocodiles can be trained to hold their large jaws open for a prolonged period of time, however, they clamp down immediately when something touches their tongue. This could be a training stick, a person’s ear, or even a bead of sweat that falls from the performers head.
It’s also not the first time a trick like this has gone wrong. It’s almost as if we should stop doing it…
These are the 19 countries that have banned the use of wild animals in circuses: Austria, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, El Salvador, Greece, Israel, Malta, Mexico, The Netherlands, Paraguay, Peru, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia and Slovenia.
This makes the US and UK look very old-fashioned…