---The Republican, April 26, 2016
Tis the make-or-break season for Melha Shrine Circus, or so I’m told, by an inside source — inside being the man who answers the phone. Twas he who took my muck-racking, mud-raising call, on the spur, wondering in half a question, whether the crowds who stayed away in 2016 or demanded refunds because the elephants were missing, came back in 2017, when they returned?
Answered my informant, “Well, somewhat, but not what we had hoped for.” Not an exact quote, but in honest essence, what came through on my end. My toughest question — this should land me on CBS Six Minutes -- Could you give me the attendance records? That nasty squirm-churning word: “attendance.” My Shrine source did not know, but the chairman should know, he told me. So far, with zero effort, I have been unable to statistic-cate this any further. And did I just invent a new word back there?
Exclusive disclosure from the Melha man: This will be third year of a “three year plan,” evidently, from what I gathered, the first being 2016 without exotics, then next, the return of same, and now — this make-or-break third year, to Jumbo or not to Jumbo? Beyond that, to have a circus at all? The best he could give me was, I know we are going to have a circus in 2018.”
Yes they are. Early May dates have been posted on their website
So let me risk another subject worth tip toeing around: Kelly Miller. The show’s new owner, Jim Judkins, came up through older-fashioned trenches, managing for gutsy, menagerie-heavy Carson & Barnes. But when he and Dorry Miller severed ties – tantamount to a shootout at the OK corral – and Jim gave birth to Circus Chimera, he broke totally from the older paradigm (Oh, I just had to use that word, kids – a first for me – look it up!). Jim boy down-produced Chimera the Montreal way, but on bargain basement budgets. All human. Come on how, Jim, how about taking a few steps backward towards common sense, and relenting a little with, say, a dog act?
To bark or not to bark? Judkins may be facing another make-or-break year. He’s valiantly trying to shake off those pesty protesters who hounded the K-M midway, trying to lure back its vanishing crowd base. And he’s proving himself to be the adult in the tent by wisely vowing to tour without the exotics. Better yet by reaching out to the fans, asking them to get out the word to their local animal rights groups.
Top drawer thrill: hoop juggler Deyanira Rosales returns to Kelly Miller
Way to go, Jim! And, NO, I am not nor have I ever been a member of the PETA party. I am on record many times over as arguing for displays of magical interaction between man and beast that the circus can give us — safely short of performing pachyderms, in our time RIGHT NOW the kiss of death were tickets to circuses are sold – or ignored.
Advocates a thinking Jim Judkins in a Circus Report ad “I hope that the animal rights movement is as active in contacting local sponsors, officials, and media in urging support for Kelly Miller as they were in the past with negative comments about Kelly Miller.”
Headed for Kelly-Miller: Ringling clown college grads,
and four years with the show, EZ and KoZee
and four years with the show, EZ and KoZee
“When I compare the photos I see of elephants in India being set on fire because they are considered pests, contrasted with the care that elephants receive in the Endangered Ark Foundation in Hugo, OK, I am saddened that there has been such a radical agenda against animals in he circus, and cannot see that everything is not completely black and white, but many shades in the rainbow.”
It’s the way of today’s world. Even Cedric Walker, whose UniverSoul Circus has doggedly stayed the elephant course, is now said to be re-thinking the issue. Look for his rethinking the exotics into early retirement.
Taking heart in scholarly validation, here’s noted animal authority, Dr Marthe Kiley-Worthington, whom I happily quoted in my book Fall of the Big Top, and who Douglas McPherson recently quoted on his Circus Mania blog:
"There are very important arguments why pleasant interested contact between animals and humans should be encouraged and fostered and circuses can do this. These are: 1) because relationships between humans and non-human animals can be mutually rewarding and enriching for both (and not just for therapy). 2) Because humans then have some experiences of direct contact, experience the emotions and mental abilities of different animals and realize that they too are sentient, thinking beings with desires and needs of all kinds, have value in themselves (not just an instrumental value for humans to benefit from) and therefore must be conserved. No TV documentaries, films, or watching through binoculars will provide these emotional exchanges & experiences that contact with others does provide "
Exit with a fanfare: Believe in tomorrow. Kelly Miller has a new ringmaster, showmanly Fridman Torales ...
A promising paradigm!
(Do you feel any better?)
*** Circus Report's reprint of The Atlanta Journal Constitution review of the Big Apple circus omitted the following: "At a recent Thursday night show, there was a smattering of empty seats for a magical performance that deserves a sold-out audience every time."