There has been a lot of debate lately about animals in circuses, so it was interesting to come across a website that only shows clips of lion tamers getting their comeuppance. Animal trainers always claim they are merely enhancing their charges natural talents. But a lion forced onto a swing and hoisted high above the ring with a glamorous lady astride his back? Hardly the first choice of leisure activity for the king of the jungle.

Not surprisingly, Leo eventually gets his own back. The website is not so crass as to show the gory bits, but as the voiceover succinctly puts it, ‘Five minutes later, that guy is lunch!’

Despite being famous for my Lady Margaret’s Dog Show, which tends to demean the owners rather than their pooches, I’ve always been against performing animals, especially in traveling shows. I once went to a circus which included a hippo and two giraffes in the finale. What a life, being dragged around the country in a larger than life horse box, to be paraded twice nightly in front of a crowd of gawping strangers. Children in the audience were actually invited to chuck whole sliced loaves into the hippo’s cavernous jaws. I’m not certain what hippos normally eat, but I’m pretty sure it’s not Wonderloaf!

Before Bath Council sensibly banned performing animals from the city bounds, circuses would pitch up at Lambridge on the field next to the rugby pitch.  One such show proudly featured lions, tigers and, believe it or not, a polar bear in the ring together. What the polar bear’s opinion of pirouetting on a sparkly rostrum alongside these exotic beasts from completely different continents isn’t recorded, but he probably didn’t want to be doing it in Larkhall.

Natural Theatre Company once performed in a circus in Munich. There was a hippo in that show too. He showed his disdain for the audience by turning his back on them and spraying them as only a hippo with a dodgy tummy can. Perhaps they’d been feeding him with white sliced bread too!

If I’d been that swinging lion, I would have taken a flying leap into the baying crowd below. I bet I could have munched my way through a brace of tasty punters before they got me with their stun guns!

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