An animal-free circus may become the new norm for Charlotte

An animal-free circus may become the new norm for Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Your family’s fun time at the circus may be permanently changing. Charlotte City Council is being asked to consider banning wild animals for entertainment.

In the parking lot at Northlake Mall, there’s already one company that’s on the wave of a no-animal circus – and shows start on Thursday.

There are so many people whose hearts break to see animals perform for a few laughs or a few claps, but this circus seems to have found a way to bring in revenue and family fun without having to handle lions, tigers or bears.

How things are run at Cirque Italia could possibly be the new normal for any circus that comes to town. The animal-free zone is the new age for circus acts.

“A high-quality show that’s very different than what everybody has seen in the past,” said Corissa Fusco who is a part of the performance.

During the act, you can see her become a highflyer who twists and twirls in the air. At Cirque Italia there’s also a waterworks and light show, plus clowns.

“Acrobatics, contortion, juggling, a lot of aerial arts in this show,” Fusco added.

The only animals you’ll see will be a bunch of men and women in puppet costumes dressed up like your favorite animals. Then there are plastic blow-up toys parents usually buy for their kids to take home.

“The kids enjoy it. They love to come up and take pictures with them,” said Fusco.

Animal rights' advocates are pushing Charlotte council members to ban circus animals.
Animal rights' advocates are pushing Charlotte council members to ban circus animals. (Source: Bria Bell)

There’s a group in Charlotte that believes this should be the standard across the board for any circus that comes to town.

For weeks, they’ve held signs and worn t-shirts begging city council members to ban circus animals so there’s never a chance for cruel treatment. But before a decision is made, city leaders are going to see how other big cities handle animal acts and get the opinions of companies who use animals to entertain.

“They are continuing to kick these issues right down the can.. down the alley with the can. And I don’t know if it’s because some of the council doesn’t want these bans or because they just don’t want to be responsible for making these decisions,” said Toni Castorino, an animal activist, in a city council meeting earlier this month.

Performers for Cirque Italia say they find that their audience is always mentioning to them how there’s no real animals

“It just becomes a conversation,” Fusco confirmed.

But it’s not a problem because they say their audiences end up becoming big fans of the athleticism and sport the acrobats showcase.

City council members say there are in no rush to decide on whether circus animals will be banned in the future. They say it’s not an “urgency”.

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