Page 36 - March2017

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Christy Bros.
he recent closure of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus marked the end of an era, one that will
most likely be remembered for becoming a high-profile target for animal rights activists and a thankless victim of
societal evolution. As an industry, the circus was beholden to a society who continues to develop a heightened
awareness that animals, just as humans, prefer freedom. But even amid this noble quest towards a higher-
minded civilization, the history of traveling circuses in the United States spans a century and a half, and their unique
ability to bring glamour and marvel to the bleakest, most remote parts of the country cannot be denied. Long before
modern conveniences like highways and indoor plumbing became ubiquitous, circus tours were both relentlessly brutal
and incomparably magnificent—an unimaginable lifestyle for performers, both human and beast, was endured for the
sake of satiating the public’s eternal desire to be spectacularly entertained.
By Kimber Fountain
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MARCH 2017