Turkey’s ‘cruelty-free’ circus thrills audiences without help from furry friends

A Turkish circus group has been delighting audiences without any lions, elephants or furry friends on stage.

Turkey Circus, which began almost 20 years ago with the goal of putting together a captivating show without captive animals, features acrobats, clowns, illusionists, balancing acts and ladder shows.

"The most important feature of our circus is that it's animal free," Circus chief Ufuk Güneş told Anadolu Agency.

"Since the day we were established, we have emphasized that we are an animal-free circus in our tickets and advertisements," he said.

The show, which lasts approximately 120 minutes, tours the country, most recently thrilling an audience in central Kayseri province.

Güneş claimed that the thousands of audience members who have seen the group's performance have had more fun than they would at a traditional circus.

"Animals are definitely not our money-making tool; I think they must be our friends," Güneş said.

Güneş said the group aims to protect animals like lions and tigers from the "persecution" of inhumane training tactics like starvation.

"A main element that makes us human is compassion toward animals. If we have mercy, we are human," he said.

The group's illusionist Bora Yalçındağ said most audiences naturally don't want to see animals involved in circus performances. While not all circuses treat their animals inhumanely, most do, he said.

Yalçındağ said audiences today are increasingly interested in seeing acrobats in performances.

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