German Circus Uses Holograms to Fight Animal Cruelty

Circus Roncalli using a hologram instead of a real elephant during a cruelty-free show.
Circus Roncalli using a hologram instead of a real elephant during a cruelty-free show.
Photo: Circus Roncalli / Facebook

In years past, a visit to the circus meant magic and excitement, thrills and awe-inspiring performances. Over time, however, awareness of what goes on behind the scenes of a circus has seen many people turn their backs and even boycott these entertaining extravaganzas altogether. Circus Roncalli has set out to change that.

The Failure of Traditional Circuses

It started with animal activists protesting the way circus animals are treated, and their message spread to the masses. As the public became educated on cruel practices, like violent training sessions that used whipping or electric shock to coerce the animals to perform their tricks, circus attendance numbers plummeted. Some countries, like Mexico, the Netherlands, and Ireland, banned circus performances entirely. What was once a magical art form was dying off.

A New Era

Enter Bernhard Paul, founder of Germany’s Circus Roncalli. Paul founded Circus Roncalli in 1976, using a traditional circus model, which included the unfair treatment of animals. In reaction to the decrease in circus popularity stemming from the public’s concern with animal rights, Paul adopted a new approach to save the age-old circus tradition.

Circus Roncalli pioneered a circus that brought the awe of elephants, horses, and even fish to life, all without a single animal present under the big top. Circus Roncalli accomplished this feat by projecting 360-degree 3D holographic images across their 105-foot-wide arena. The animals appear as though they are on stage, thanks to modern holographic technology.

Circus Roncalli using holograms instead of real horses during a cruelty-free show.
Photo: Circus Roncalli / Facebook

Other traditional elements of the circus remain – acrobats, magicians, jugglers, clowns, trapeze artists, and musicians, but today’s Circus Roncalli marries nostalgia with modernization for today’s audience.

Public Reaction

Fans of Circus Roncalli have taken to Twitter to offer their praise for the show’s original, cruelty-free approach. German newspapers have lauded the show with headlines like “Romance Meets Robotics” and “Old Magic Remains.”

Paul’s new circus strikes the balance between whimsy and adventure, without compromising compassion and awareness for animals. Thanks to impressed audiences and activists on social media, Circus Roncalli has successfully transformed a dying art form for a new generation.