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Circus ban ignites animal rights debate in Mexico

December 13, 2014
Big Yorgi is a $50,000 robotic elephant built to pre-empt the ban on circus animals.

Big Yorgi is a $50,000 robotic elephant built to pre-empt the ban on circus animals.

Hailed as the main attraction of the Magic Spacial Cyber Circus in Guadalajara, “Big Yorgi” the elephant duly shuffled onstage, curled his trunk in the air and booted a few footballs into the sparse crowd. Then, with a solemn blink of the eye, he retreated backstage.

Mexico’s Congress passed a bill outlawing circuses with animals across the entire country on Thursday, but this performance offered a glimpse of the future given that Big Yorgi is a $50,000 robotic elephant built to pre-empt the new law.

The star of the show was preceded by jugglers, acrobats and dancing girls. Yet, judging by the rows and rows of empty seats, a circus without live animals has diminished appeal in Mexico.

“The circus is dying,” said Edwin, one of the Magic Spacial Cyber Circus directors who declined to give his surname in order to “avoid problems”.

"We don't know what we'll do with the animals. We can't just abandon them but no one wants to buy them," said Union Circus owner Walter Fuentes.

“We don’t know what we’ll do with the animals. We can’t just abandon them but no one wants to buy them,” said Union Circus owner Walter Fuentes.

A former soldier with 23 years of experience handling and collecting circus animals, Edwin said Big Yorgi does not compare to live specimens and lamented that he is no longer allowed to showcase his menagerie across Mexico…

Click here to read this feature in full at Al Jazeera.

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