I don’t know when I was at a circus the last time. It must have been when I was 10 years of age or younger and I don’t know either if it was once or twice that I was at a circus, but it was definitely not more often.

So, I am clearly not a mad Circus fan and no Circus could build their business on people like me. But it did make a big impression on me. I remember clowns, and jugglers and a round sandy arena, but I also remember tigers and lions and elephants and possibly monkeys.

Thinking back, it was the animals and the clowns that impressed me most. I didn’t know if the animals were treated appropriately, but I was 10 and it wasn’t the first time that I had seen animals in cages or on leashes, so it didn’t concern me hugely.  Since my circus visit back then, I have heard about mistreated animals, but I also have heard about circuses making huge efforts to look after the animals well.

Now it has been announced that from January 2018 the use of wild animals in circuses in Ireland will be banned and I am in two minds about it.

Obviously I am not supporting or condoning the abuse or bad treatment of animals (“wild” or non-wild!), but at the same time I remember the visit to a circus as a hugely positive and educational experience. I also wonder why only “wild” animals will be banned and if these “wild” animals are still that wild? What about a tiger whose parents and grand-parents and great-grand parents all were part of a circus. Is that still a “wild” animal? Or is it a “domesticated” animal. And why are ponies and dogs seen as different type of animals. They once were wild as well, I guess. And mistreating them is also not acceptable. We are training dogs with no hesitation to do tricks for us, but there is objection to train formerly wild animals.

Would it no have been an option to work on ensuring that no circus mistreats animals? I am clearly no expert in this area, but I am wondering.