Thursday, September 19, 2013

Cheers to Thomas Chipperfield! His Lion Training Video Diary Redeems Circus From Damaging Frisco and Feld Footage

Part Two in a Series, Is It Time to Retire the Circus Elephants?

The big cage is back in Britain, tanks to a Chipperfield most worthy of respect

Like emerging from a dark barn of animal abuse hell into the sunshine of a remarkably humane circus backyard, that's how I felt as I watched the six videos put out so far by the young Thomas Chippefield titled
Circus Lion Training Video Diary.   They show two lions, the brothers Tsavo and Assegai,  being taught several of the tricks we often see and, I suppose, take for granted.

These videos are not slick or professional.  Not garnished with a charming sheen or a no-questioning pro-circus sycophancy.  They were made by a stationary camera, they look home made, which gives them a more authentic air. Reassuring, unpolished evidence that, yes, circus animals can be treated with respect, patience, kindness, and that they can be taught to do remarkable things in the most fundamentally humane one-step-at-a-time manner.  I've never totally doubted this, but there is much most of us, myself included, do not know.

I urge you to take a look. Here is your link:

Among comments posted on the You Tube revelation:, this from Scorpwas!, 6 months ago:

"This this video is amazing. I totally respect the hard work what it takes to train these animals. These cats perform their tricks with enjoyment and it looks like it makes them healthier and more enriched as Lions. Keep doing what you love and never stop or question whatever you do because someone doesn't agree with it. I admire Circus people and wish your act was in the UK! Keep up the fantastic work"

This is what we need more of.  Much more of.   This is the future, if there is to be a future.

If the horrific Tim Frisco C&B video has done more damage than anything else (which it likely has) to turn people off to watching circus animals of any stripe perform, these Chipperfield You Tubes should go a long long way towards regaining the public's confidence.  They demonstrate without fanfare or verbal gild how very possible it is to train an animal to perform wondrous feats without treating it like a doomed slave and nearly torturing it to death.  Without, in fact, abusing it at all. 

My eyes were opened, my heart warmed.   And it all makes sense.   How a lion (or tiger, I assume) can be gently coaxed  by the sight or promise of something to eat to merely, for example, stand up in order to reach the tasty prize. Stand up not under pressure, but under its own ability to contort its body in order to reach a desired goal.  How much like humans they are!   (No, I'm not quite as naive as I sound, although I am naive, as you will see in a future post when I ask questions such as, "when an elephant screams, does that always mean it is in pain? Or might it merely be resisting something that is not necessarily itself painful?)

People of PETA and circus skeptics on the fence:  YOU should take a look.  YOU should face another kind of music that exists side by side with those terrible images that have been filmed showing apparent animal abuse.

The Chippefield You Tubes all makes sense. I will never again view a big cage act the same way.  I will appreciate both trainer and beast much more.  I will recall all the time they must spend together, the one coaxing the other into positions and movements through rewards and good words in order to achieve a magical result.

Thanks to London author and critic Douglas McPherson (see his Circus Mania Blog, linkable to your right), who brought this to my attention.  McPherson is carefully and constructively following developments across the Big Pond.  Under approval of the British government, the cats of Chipefield are performing again on English soil.  The Brits, who gave us the modern day circus, may be the ones who will save it.

I'm waiting for the next page in the Chipperfield. Diary, to see how Tsavo and Assegai, who are already doing lay-overs and jumps, can finally stand on their hind legs without the rest bars upon which they currently rely.

For you who have "issues" with performing animals in the circus, these videos should at least partially restore your faith in the humanity of the big top 's best and certainly most civilized trainers.  There are many of them, I have no doubt.

Thank you, Thomas Chipperfield!

Next here on the platform:  Can the same humane techniques, as demonstrated by Mr. Chipperfield,  be used to get an elephant to stand on its head?  You may weight in on the question now, if you wish!

Thanks to Jack Ryan for additional input



Anonymous said...

One (1) video put together by a circus performer/trainer convinces you lion taming is humane ?
And the cats 'enjoy' themselves ?
Yes, getting into the arena and being able to move around IS better than laying in a 4 x 8 foot cage for the other 20 hours in a day. Does this negate all the boring hours laying on a steel or wood floor?
I'm sure the Friscos could put together a clip of 'humane' elephant training if so inclined.
Would you believe that video as you believe the Chipperfield propaganda?

Showbiz David said...

I would thank you, but thanking “anonymous” in this instance would feel oddly disingenuous.

No, No, Whomever You Are - Tim Frisco apologist; Thomas Chipperfield rival; animal activist (I suspect); or circus insider with a working knowledge of a deeper ambiguous truth concealed, as you would have us believe, by both the Frisc and Chip videos: —-- No, No, A, I did not watch "one" video, as you appear to believe, but SEVEN.

To repeat, I watched SEVEN Chipperfield You Tubes.

Nor did I say that the lions appear to "enjoy" themselves. I am quoting somebody leaving a comment on the Chipperfield You Tube site.

If I might venture, you do slight the blatantly obvious contrast between the apparent methods of two different trainers. Yes, I may be naive, but I am able, I think, to acknowledge and deal with what I actually see before me.

Are you?

Anonymous said...

I was an insider. An elephant and cat act presenter. Never a trainer. They couldn't pay me enough to beat on animals.
Whether you watched one or seven videos, they were all made by the same person. So the number is meaning-less don't you think?
I didn't start out a peta fan and am not now. I just feel it is time to phase out big cats and elephants at the circus. The too small cages for the cats and the lack of a good life for the elephants has changed my mind. Just one example if I may. Elephants in the wild and in zoos have the use of water for bathing or just playing in. Circuses provide a hose-down sometimes. It is far from adequate. Also, elephants have no choice as to what elephants will be on either side of them when chained. Normally, they will choose their 'friends' but in the circus they lose that choice. At the whim of a circus owner an elephant's good friend of many years can be sold to another show, breaking a strong bond.
I believe circuses can please the public without using big cats and elephants. I have been watching the same behaviors (tricks) for 50 years. Only in Europe do some trainers break the mold and present something of interest.
I am and always will be pro-circus, but with some changes gradually introduced.

Showbiz David said...

Hey A!

Hmmm ... (pause)... Hmmmmmm ...

I have no idea who you are — by the way, why don’t you tell us? — but this is how you sound to me: 1. Constructive and reasonable in your advocacy of a new form of circus without wild animals. 2. Envious if not jealous of Thomas Chipperfield by smearing his You Tube videos as “propaganda.” Now, perhaps you have actual evidence of Chipperfield abusing his charges like Frisco does – or has – the elephants, like in fact, if we are to believe you, all of the other trainers do.

In a court of law, or in a reputable book or media report, you would need to identify yourself and present your specifics. On my blog, although I am not saying you don’t have a credible case, so far you have failed to alter my positions, based upon the evidence I have brought to the attention of my visitors.

You are, of course, welcome to return, but only if you come with a name — YOURS — and the specifics I now require of you.

klsdad said...

Enjoying your blog.. as always.
Please don't send anyone to the lion cub training video... (I could only watch a minute or so.. as
it is ruined by
the barking dogs!!!)