Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Circus Animals, Tiger-Tamers, & Hough's The Final Confession of Mabel Stark

From the Guardian article "Circuses to be banned from using wild animals:"
Circuses [in England] will be banned from using wild animals in their shows under new government proposals that have been published after a long campaign.
Politicians and animal welfare groups have repeatedly called for the measure and in June 2011 MPs overwhelmingly supported a blanket ban, but ministers were initially reluctant to meet their demands due to fears over possible legal action from circus operators. T
he government's plan will make it an offence for any operator to use a wild animal in performance or exhibition in a travelling circus in England from 1 December 2015.

For a novel about a tiger-tamer and the circus animals she worked with, try The Final Confession of Mabel Stark by Robert Hough:
In the 1910s and '20s, during the golden age of the big top, Mabel Stark was the superstar of the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus, and one of America's most eccentric celebrities. A tiny, curvaceous Kentucky blonde in a white leather bodysuit, Mabel was brazen, sexually adventurous, and suicidally courageous. The Final Confession of Mabel Stark is Robert Hough's brilliant, highly acclaimed novelization of her fantastic life. It is 1968 — Mabel is just turning eighty and is about to lose her job at Jungleland, a Southern California game park. Devastated by the loss of her cats, she looks back on her life and her five husbands: the fifth would one day be tragically mauled by her one true love, her ferocious yet amorous 550-pound Bengal tiger Rajah. Starting with her escape from a mental institution to begin her circus career as a burlesque dancer, Mabel's exquisitely voiced confession is a live wire of dark secrets, broken dreams, and comic escapades.

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