Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Travelling family-run circus halted by virus



Travelling family-run circus halted by virus

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Equilibrist Nicky Dubois feeds the animals while his circus has been stuck for nine months. AFP

Travelling family-run circus halted by virus

There are 50 animals to feed and no tickets to sell. The Zavatelli Circus has been blocked in Belgium for almost a year by the coronavirus epidemic.

Now the family-run firm is appealing to local donors to help them feed the camels, horses and llamas they have grazing outside the southern Wallon town of Gembloux.

“Just to buy food for the animals we need €500 [$600] a week, it’s a huge budget. We’ve had problems before, but never something like this,” circus director Simon Dubois said.

In a normal year, the circus would have roamed the back roads of Belgium and northern France, but in 2020 it was stopped in its tracks by the partial lockdown of mid-March ordered to curb the Covid-19 pandemic.

When the measures were lifted, the circus was prepared to observe social-distancing rules by reducing the crowd size in the big top from 600 to 200, and separating the spectators.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Leyns Dubois, a 16-year-old juggler, poses in a car park in Belgium while the circus is closed down due to Covid-19 restrictions. AFP

But potential venues were nervous. And so the Gembloux stopover began to stretch out and, with lockdown rules brought back in October to fight a second wave of infections, the situation is bleak.

The colourfully painted trucks are aligned in tight rows on a car park and the 25 clowns, rope walkers, jugglers and animal handlers – mainly members of one extended family – are effectively unemployed.

Nicky Dubois, Simon’s cousin, has given up rehearsing his acrobatic act, which normally takes place 10m off the ground. “For that, the big top has to go up,” he said. Currently, it remains packed away.

It has been a depressing period for a close-knit team.

Nicky’s brother Kevin, the tightrope walker, complained: “Normally it’s lively. A circus is joyful, there’s good humour, we have a laugh while we’re setting things up.”

Content image - Phnom Penh Post

And now Europe’s winter is coming, when the circus would normally take a three-month break.

“We had some money saved up, but we’re dipping into that now. We have to eat every day ourselves, and then there’s the animals.” Kevin said.

When the local media reported the circus’ plight, one neighbour delivered three big sacks of carrots. But the show itself can’t yet go on.

MOST VIEWED

  • Massive stingrays may live in Mekong’s deep pools

    US scientists have suggested that unexplored deep pools in the Mekong River in an area of Stung Treng could potentially be home to significant populations of giant freshwater stingrays, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species. This comes as a fisherman hooked a 180

  • PM takes time to meet, greet Cambodians living in the US

    After landing in the US ahead of the ASEAN-US Special Summit, Prime Minister Hun Sen was received by over 1,000 Cambodian-Americans including political analysts who welcomed him with greetings, fist bumps and selfies. Hun Sen also met with analyst Mak Hoeun, who had allegedly spoken ill

  • PM reflects on shoe throwing: Free speech or act of violence?

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 17 questioned whether a man who threw a shoe at him while he was in the US was exercising freedom of expression or if it was an act of hostility. Hun Sen was referring to an incident last week when

  • Chinese tourists 2.0 – Coming anytime soon?

    Regional tourism is grappling with the absence of the prolific travellers and big spenders – the Chinese tourists. Cambodia, which has welcomed over two million Chinese tourists before Covid-19, is reeling from the economic loss despite being the first to fully open last November ‘To put

  • Prime Minister Hun Sen warmly welcomed by president Biden

    Prime Minister Hun Sen, as ASEAN chair, and other ASEAN leaders were warmly welcomed by US president Joe Biden as the ASEAN-US summit May 12-13 kicked off today in Washington. “This evening, I welcomed ASEAN leaders to the White House for the first time in

  • Third Makro outlet planned for capital’s Chroy Changvar

    Makro (Cambodia) Co Ltd is set to invest $12.7 million in its third Cambodian outlet, this time in northeast Phnom Penh’s Chroy Changvar district, an area dotted with high-end residential developments, as shopping behaviours continue to evolve in tandem with economic growth. The Cambodian Investment