“Elephants and clowns are the two pegs on which to hang a circus” Phineas Taylor Barnum
The elephant, friendly giant and children favourite, is part of the western mythology thanks to imaginary characters such as Dumbo and Babar. Sometimes, such as with famous Jumbo, Barnum’s giant elephant, an exceptional animal inspires engineers who baptize gigantic planes “Jumbo Jets” … Domesticated for a long time in Asia, the elephant proved to be a submissive and kind creature, always attentive to human commands. The first moment of complicity witnessed in the western hemisphere was with Hannibal and the crossing of the Alps. The elephant—royal or princely gift, admired, featured in private or public collections—has been a circus favourite since the beginning of the 19th century. Its size makes it a spectacular argument and some countries such as Germany and the United States use it as a symbolic figure for their shows.
Both agile and powerful, it can be an equilibrist, tight-rope walker and cyclist, as well as a reliable partner to propel acrobats high into the air or serve as a platform to lions and tigers. The exhibition illustrates the very strong ties woven over many centuries between man and elephant, while also questioning the future of this weakened animal in the nature of Asia and Africa.
Today, Circus Knie has abandoned the training and showing of their elephants, Circus Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey announced in May 2017 the end of a few types of shows. Sky roots and circus pillars, elephants are now perceived as ambassadors for the untamed world, iconic creatures whose intelligence and power vouch for the greatness of the living and the need to protect them.