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.
A handshake, a kiss on the cheek, a bow... We humans have many different ways of greeting each other, depending on context and culture. Animals, too, have a huge variety of greetings, some eerily similar to ours and some specific to their species. Here are the different ways in which animals say "hello" to each other.
It was Monday 10 November when we heard the news, Tim the famous Amboseli Tusker had a serious injury and ground teams had been unable to locate him. It is the type of news you dread, and immediately brings to mind two other mighty Tuskers of Kenya, Mountain Bull and Satao, both killed this year by poachers.