Riga (AFP) - A travelling Czech circus stuck abroad under the coronavirus lockdown has been overwhelmed by the generosity of strangers helping to feed its troupe of animals after cancelled shows left it penniless.
Stranded in Latvia, the family-run Circus Alex has been unable to perform or return home since borders were closed in mid-March.
Its desperate owners were forced to turn to social media to ask for help to feed their horses, goats, a llama and themselves.
"We have been overwhelmed by the support of strangers," circus owner Anna Polachova told AFP, adding the circus has received "more food for ourselves and our animals than we can eat!"
The circus features three horses, a horned female goat named Alina with two kids and Jozef, a llama.
Although Latvia bans using force to make animals perform tricks that are unnatural for a given species, it permits zoos so long as animals are treated humanely.
"We were preparing for the 2020 season and set up our tent in Riga, but the very next day we were informed that all public gatherings and cultural performances with more than 50 people are prohibited due to coronavirus," said Polachova, whose family has worked in the circus business for generations.
"Our hired jugglers and magicians have returned home but our family must stay with our animals," Polachova added.
An equestrian club located in Stopini, on the outskirts of the capital Riga, is sheltering the circus.
"I immediately invited the Polach family to use my stable for their animals and relocate their circus trucks to our club," Anna Romasenko, owner of the Mezezeri stables, told AFP.
Latvians are also digging into their pockets to help Romasenko cover utility costs for the circus.
Polachova has vowed to give free performances in Latvia to express her family's gratitude once restrictions are lifted and life gets back to normal.
Circus Alex has toured Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland each spring and summer for years.