Circus animals are thin on the sawdust these days - you may find a few horses or dogs in a British big top if you’re lucky.
How different it was in the past as this Chipperfields poster from 1959 proves. Under the monocled eye of then TV favourite Fred Emney we find:
- Polar bears and brown bears.
- 4 Shire carthorses.
- a Poodle and Pony revue.
- Europe’s Greatest Elephant Herd (presented by the “15-year-old wonder boy of the circus,” Dickie Chipperfield).
- Nubian Lions.
- Cheeky chimps.
- 16 thoroughbred horses.
- Chako the “almost human” ape.
As if that were not enough, a “Fabulous Exotic Act” featured:
- 2 Giraffes.
- 8 Camels.
- 8 Lamas.
- Harry the Hippo
- and (scribbled in as if almost an afterthought) Crocodiles!
“The only circus in the world where this spectacle can be seen,” shouts the advertising copy. To which, half a century on, we can probably add with some certainty, “And which will never be seen again.”