Once seen as a staple of visiting the circus, times may be changing for circus animals. In recent years, there’s been a backlash against using animals in circuses. Where once there were elephants, lions, and camels – soon there may be no animals at all. There are already many circuses that don’t utilize animals, but what about the ones that still do?
Circus Animal Laws
Many states in the U.S. have banned the use of animals in circus acts, including Illinois, New York, and New Jersey. (1) Following the UK changing its laws around circus animals, a German circus called Circus Roncalli has become the first circus to completely trade in live animals for holographic replacements. The United Kingdom has been on a roll lately passing laws to protect animals. It recently passed Finn’s Law, strengthening protections of service animals, and now has banned wild animals from being used in circuses. (2) “Travelling circuses are no place for wild animals in the 21st century and I am pleased that this legislation will put an end to this practice for good,” Environment Secretary Michael Gove said, in May, as he introduced the bill banning them. (3)
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Activists worldwide have accused many circuses of beating, starving and keeping their animals in unsanitary conditions while they perform for large crowds. With some states banning circus animals, some audience members are upset that they won’t get to see what they consider to be a staple of a circus visit. (4)
Roncalli has been around since 1976, and for many years they used animals in their circuses. Recently, they decided to take the circus in another direction, departing from tradition. To do so, they partnered with a company named Optoma. They wanted to develop the traditional circus experience in an imaginative, creative way. Roncalli’s agency TAG/TRAUM in cooperation with Bluebox selected Optoma as the best solution for this project and installed 11 ZU850 laser projectors for a mesmerizing holographic experience. Birger Wunderlich at Bluebox stated: “We have been using Optoma projectors for 6 years and have consistently had a very positive experience in price, performance, and reliability. We needed a high contrast projector with great colors for the 3D effect and the ZU850’s 2,000,000:1 contrast is perfect for this project.” (5, 6)
The holograms included, but were not limited to, elephants, horses, and even the occasional giant goldfish! Janine Kunze, an actress from Germany stated: “I thought the hologram at the beginning was really great. You actually remember the circus, especially Roncalli, with horses and dogs, they always used to be part of it, and I think they really included it well. Also, in the beginning when they told the story in a new kind of way.” (6)
Contemporary Circus Acts
Visitors of the Roncalli circus are left mesmerized and inspired by the effects produced by the Optoma projectors, with Katja Burkard, a TV Presenter from Germany stating: “I find the hologram very contemporary – especially the fact that there are no animals involved is very good.” (6)
Could this be the future of circuses? With holograms being limited only by the imagination, who knows what we’ll see in the future? I’m very excited to see what happens next, and very pleased that I don’t need to worry about the safety of circus animals in the process.