Three Rings

Ringling Bros. was in town last week — and while I’ve always loved going to the circus, what really fascinates me are the logistics behind the scenes. Even if it’s not the greatest show on earth, it’s certainly the biggest. They roll in a train loaded with animals, rigging gear, props, and a million other things that it takes to mount the huge production. Think about that: the circus has its own trains.

The circus is not an independant entity. No, when they come to town they start throwing money around, hiring day laborers, renting equipment, and buying supplies. During a stroll past the Times Union Center yesterday I saw huge piles of hay, dumpsters, semi-trucks, fencing — all bought or contracted locally to make the show run. The circus is like a miniature economic stimulus program.

And now they’ve moved on. To Columbus, Ohio. To Mexico City. To Corpus Christi — and that’s just the Red Tour. Ringling has three different shows operating simultaneously around America.

But there’s a dark side to all this, you know. At the intersection where money and animals meet, people don’t always treat living creatures well. There’s no way to justify what’s in the videos on this site — and it’s hard to look at the elephants the same after you see someone hitting them.

I never used to pay much attention to what PETA put out about the circus, but now it’s beginning to trouble me. Like a lot of things, it doesn’t look as spectacular when you peek behind the curtains.

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