In an increasingly sanitised and digitalised age, the interaction of trainer and animal in the sawdust circle provides something real and raw that no other form of entertainment can offer. Rather than demeaning animals, it impresses all ages with their skill and intelligence, and enhances our relationship with nature.
That little is known about circus training is unsurprising - a magician doesn't spoil his illusions with a banal explanation. But the secrecy of the circus community has fuelled suspicion of cruelty. It's human nature to distrust those who live differently from us and to apply sinister connotations to things we don't understand.
Many believe wild animal circuses are already banned, as the overwhelming majority of the public turned their backs on such shows years ago. The issue refuses to go away and the prime minister is being urged to pass the ban he promised before the General Election. I am one of the many hoping he keeps his promise - here's why:
Much animal suffering is not immediately obvious and visible. They are forced to suffer long, arduous journeys and extended periods tied up, chained or caged - with no freedom of movement. Housed in temporary, transportable accommodation, it is simply not possible for circuses to provide an appropriate environment for wild animals.