I was not quite sure at first – the Kiev Circus is a very soviet style building and the idea of a “circus with live animals” was somehow not very politically correct. Nowadays in Europe, circuses are usually tame affairs with the odd parrot on a stick and a dog with a ruffle.
Lions, tigers and bears have been off the agenda and posters for years – and in the UK the clowns car will probably have been declared unroadworthy. Plus – all that water throwing could contravene workplace regulations.
Nevertheless, for all my trepidation the event was rather good and at no time did I see any cruelty (bar polar bears not actually being at home in a circus and preferring to slaughter seal pups in their native homeland). The build up was good – girls in stockings on ice skates unicycling (I am sure that is a particular sexual fetish whose name escapes me) and performing cats (that went back and forth between their temporary home and the ice rink unaided); doves with ribbons that flew in formation around the auditorium; a maniacal Mr Punch dragging children onto the ice to dance… all fine and dandy.
When the polar bears did come out they looked in good health and playfully romped about chasing each other and rolling around on the ice. The previously hastily rigged netting would not have stopped one of the earlier performing cats let alone a bear but in the safety of 10 rows back I felt marginally secure. If one had broken out there were 9 rows of children between me and any wild carnivore.
So, they rolled chased and cavorted. They slid down a slide and at one point all stood up next to mock microphone stands and looked as though they were singing acapella. That was probably the low moment as I felt uneasy at their loss of dignity. (Hmmm – how often does that thought cross your mind: “Those polar bears have lost their dignity”) The skating aspect – as in the bears shown skating on the giant poster outside was impressive, albeit short, when one 2.5m high bear emerged from behind the curtain … and skated around the small rink. Looking at the shaky video I took you can even see it start to move its feet to start getting up some speed.
Part of me cringes.
Part of me wants to write to the circus and demand that the bears be set free.. it would certainly make Kreshatyk more interesting.
Part of me though… would like to go and see it all again.