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.


  • Phnom Penh unveils rules for post-lockdown transition

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration issued a set of detailed guidelines for the seven days to May 12 after the capital emerges from lockdown at the onset of May 6. In the 14-page document signed by municipal governor Khuong Sreng released on the evening of May 5, the

  • SBI LY HOUR Bank Launches Cross Border Money Transfer Service between Cambodia and Vietnam on RippleNet, utilizing DLT

    SBI LY HOUR Bank Plc and Hanoi-based Tien Phong Commercial Joint Stock Bank (TPBank) on Friday launched the first Cambodia-Vietnam money transfer service in real currency via RippleNet, provided by SBI Ripple Asia Co Ltd to provide safe, fast and convenient services. SBI LY HOUR

  • Gov’t issues guidelines as lockdown nears end

    The government has issued a five-page set of instructions to be enforced when the three-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Takmao town in Kandal province ends on May 6. According to an announcement signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen on May 4, the instructions cover a

  • Cambodia ready to exit LDC status

    Cambodia is well-prepared to minimise economic risks when it graduates from its Least Developed Countries status, according to a senior official at the Ministry of Commerce on May 7. Four LDCs – Cambodia, Laos, Bangladesh and Nepal – met at a virtual workshop last week to explore potential

  • Nine US franchises eye Cambodia debut

    Nine famous US franchising companies are looking for business opportunities and expansion into Cambodia to build a footstep for a strong foundation in Southeast Asia. The US embassy in Phnom Penh, in partnership with the US Foreign Commercial Service and with support from the American

  • Lost in translation: ‘Starvation’ in capital’s designated red zones

    “DACH bay” is a Khmer slang meaning a “loss of income”, that could also be literally translated to «deprived of rice”, which alludes to starvation. However, civil society organisation (CSO) officials have independently confirmed the government’s prior assertions that there are no cases of