Went to the circus yesterday, with my 4 year old grandson. His expectations were opposed to the ideas of the animal rights activists demonstrating outside, posters declaring animal performers are "slaves". Sorry, to me that energy could be better deployed dealing with somewhat more extreme instances of actual human slavery, as well as outright cruelty to, and neglect of, animals and other people. Since the animals at a circus are, in simplest terms, the livelihood of their trainers, it seems to me unlikely that they would be suffering any degree of neglect or mistreatment. Animals. like people, live longer and stay healthier when their living conditions are better. That is a very simple correlation.
Regardless of why, in any case, this circus had very few animals, 8 horses, 3 elephants and a dog are all I saw. Quite a change from those of fifty years ago, when you could expect many more horses, lions, tigers, sea-lions, elephants, several different dog performers, perhaps a goat or a bear. Predators like lions and tigers are never actually domesticated,and probably the same applies to sea mammals, and to bears, so there is a strong case for taking them out of cicuses, I agree. Why so few domestic animals though? Regulations regarding the movement of farm animals, perhaps?
In any case, at 4 years old, he wanted to see live animals, rather than acrobats. To my mind a very reasonable desire.