For hundreds of years now, audiences have been entertained by live acts in which elephants, tigers, monkeys, and other wild animals perform amazing tricks. But behind the scenes of these dazzling displays, circus animals are typically confined in cages under inhumane conditions, underfed, deprived of their natural environments, and trained using extreme “discipline” with whips and electrical prods. It’s the 21st century, and it’s beyond time for us to move past such practices. Thankfully, some major circuses are beginning to do exactly that — with performances that are more delightful than ever before.
Circus Roncalli, a German company that’s been touring Europe since 1979, recently decided to transition to modern techniques to showcase their talents. Instead of opening their show of acrobatics and other impressive displays with live animal exhibitions, they’re employing larger-than-life holograms. The interactive digital show represents the final step in the company’s efforts to phase animals out of their shows altogether, and the results are nothing short of magnificent.
Though the change was implemented in 2018, Roncalli’s decision is enjoying a new wave of appreciation and enthusiasm from the public thanks to a recent Reddit thread. In a video capturing one performance, the ringmaster greets spectators before the three-dimensional display of shimmering lights makes its debut.
Horses, elephants, gargantuan goldfish, and other creatures appear before the audience with 360-degree visibility, completely filling the 105-foot-wide, 16-foot-deep arena. The effects are created using a crew of 15 3D designers and software engineers, 11 laser beams, and more than 3,000 processes, reports IFLScience. As usual, the animals open the show for an array of human performers.
“The new circus leads us into a new age,” says Max Schautzer, who performs in the show. “Unfortunately, the ‘old’ circus has gotten a bit dusty, but this is how the circus can remain alive.”
Not only does this shift eliminate cruelty to animals in Circus Roncalli’s productions, it saves them a lot of money, too. Though it’s unclear how much the holographic display costs the company, it was previously paying up to $90,000 to transport animals during a single trip in 2016, according to Smithsonian Magazine.
The trend might just catch on as other circuses phase out the use of live animals, which means countless wild creatures would be freed from a life of stress and pain.
“Today, seven American states and 149 cities, towns, and counties have implemented restrictions on the use of wild animals in circuses, according to the animal welfare group Four Paws,” says Smithsonian Magazine. “Just last year, New Jersey and Hawaii enacted statewide bans on animal circus acts, and globally, more than 40 countries have placed restrictions or bans on animal performances.”
Unsurprisingly, reactions to Circus Roncalli’s revolutionary choice to use holographic animals in its performances have been overwhelmingly positive. It also seems like holograms would be an amazing way to bring extinct animals back to life without risking any Jurassic Park-style consequences, or even to show off mythological creatures.
On Instagram, one user said “Let’s keep it real, I expect dragons! You guys need to make this happen.”