Scotland Stories and Tips

Not A Super Circus

Bobby Robert’s circus is a family circus with performers who come from a long line of circus families. I was invited to one of their shows a few weeks ago by my daughters friend and her mum who had won tickets for four people to go and see the show for free. I had been looking forward to the circus, it’s always nice to see live acts and was looking forward to spending time with friends as well. The circus travels round the UK generally staying at each location for a week at a time with shows twice a day.

We were lucky enough to be given ringside seats which means you sit on plastic chairs next to the ring and are really close to all the action. The most expensive seats are right at the front where there is a small box with comfy chairs and most people sit in the stalls. Prices vary a lot but a family ticket to the circus is never going to be cheap. If you do visit try and get there as early as possible and choose seats facing the front of the ring so that you will have the best view.

The clown did a warm up act by generally clowning around. When the circus started Bobby Roberts came riding out on a big brown horse, the horse looked like it was in fantastic condition with strong muscles and a sleek coat but I was shocked as I did not know that animals were allowed to perform still.

The first act involved 6 small horses or ponies, I will admit they were really cute but I do not think that the circus is the place for animals to be. One of the horses was either pregnant or very fat and not happy about performing making Bobby grimace at it. The act involved the horses running round the ring in circles, changing direction on cue, putting their front hooves up onto the ringside and move around and also putting their hooves up on stools.

The next animal act involved a big white horse and one of the little ponies. After trotting round the ring and changing direction etc a pole was held over the small horses head and used as a jump for the bigger horse to jump over. The big horse never looked up once during the act possibly because of the tight harness it was wearing forcing its head down all the time.

The next animal act involved the big brown horse and two little dogs. First the dogs rode around on the horses back and then two platforms used. It’s hard to explain properly but dog 1 would stand on the platform and jump onto the horses back and then jump off at the next platform where the next horse would jump on again.

There were a couple of human acts too. There was one acrobatics act with a woman juggling hula hoops with her feet which was ok. There was a really clever mime act with an old man who used a suitcase and false arms as props and I really enjoyed this. The clowns of course came out between every act and generally clowned about with the obligatory audience participation and dragging some poor unwitting sod into the ring. The human acts were certainly entertaining enough but not mind-blowing.

The circus has an elderly elephant called Anne who tours with them but no longer performs due to her advanced age of 55 making her the oldest elephant in Europe. This elephant did not look like she was in the prime of her life and she has arthritis. She was brought out during the break for people to have their photo taken with her for £5 and she also ate some candyfloss. There has been a lot of controversy about the circus owning Anne but as she has been with the circus for over 50 years I think it is best that she spends the rest of her life with them even if it is upsetting to think about her being transported a lot it is the only life she knows. There is a statement on the circus website with a quote from a government inspector saying this was best for her.

I was so upset at what I saw during the first half that me and my friend left at the break. I do not think it is right that animals are kept in the circus in this day and age and forced to perform tricks for human entertainment. I don’t think their lives can be brilliant spending most of their time cooped up in small stables and travelling around between different sites every week without a chance to behave in a natural way. We left the kids to watch the second half of the show and they went to see the little zoo attached to the circus afterwards and said there was also a camel there.

Many areas have banned animal circuses from performing and I know my own area has, when I visited Bobby Roberts it was in the next region who obviously do not feel the same way. Bobby Roberts asked the audience to all write to the council to let them know how much they enjoyed the animal acts but I did the opposite and wrote asking for them to be banned. The Roberts family may have been performing with animals for 10 generations and cite tradition as a reason why they should be allowed to continue but I think it’s time they moved to an all human circus instead.

Visiting Bobby Roberts circus really upset me because of the way that animals were used in the acts. If you are going to go to a circus then I urge you to do your research first and make sure it is all human acts before you go.

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