''Flea Circuses has fascinated us for centuries...'' No sh!t ?!

A few weeks ago while we were havin' some guy-nonesense chat I heard a friend bringing up the subject of the flea circuses. I was like WTF ?! Did some research... Holy crap, why I didn't know this 'til now ?!

     Also I found some really good/already posted stuff via Dark Roasted Blend in a 2009 article. So I'll just repost the important words from there. Why steal it and respit it, right ?

   A flea, with legs finer than a human hair, can pull up to 700 times its own weight! A flea can lift up to 60 times its own weight! A flea can jump over 150 times its own height.

     Performing fleas has been around for a long time (some say, since Ancient Egypt), then they achieved notoriety in the 1600s (when some flea trainers were condemned as sorcerers), and finally became really popular in the Victorian Period. In the late 19th century L. Bertolotto started touring the UK, Europe and America with his "Educated and Learned Fleas" - his fleas pulled chariots, drew water from a well and performed parodies of current affairs.

     European watch makers and jewelers long were demonstrating their skills to create tiny ivory sculptures and silver chains. But the art of flea training really took off when one such artisan finally made a chain so small that he could harness a flea to the end of it.

     Years later, when Bertolotto created his exhibition, he began to focus more on performance side of the show, rather than on miniature set pieces. Following this, flea circuses were shown all over at fairs and sideshows until the 1960s. It is not known what caused the decline in popularity but perhaps TV is to blame, or possibly the vacuum cleaner?

     ''A few years ago, a Mr. Boverick, an ingenious watchmaker, of London, exhibited to the public, a little ivory chaise, with four wheels, and all its proper apparatus, and a man sitting on the box, all of which were drawn by a single flea. He made a small landau, which opened and shut by springs, with six horses harnessed to it, a coachman sitting on the box, and a dog between his legs : four persons were in the carriage, two footmen behind it, and a postilion riding on one of the fore horses, which was also easily drawn along by a flea. He likewise had a chain of brass, about two inches long, containing 200 links, with a hook at one end, and a padlock and key at the other, which the flea drew very nimbly along" (Jamieson't Modern Voyages and Travels.)'' says Andy Clark, author of http://fleascircuses.blogspot.com/
    The idea to make a Victorian Flea Chariot (continues Andy) came to me when I wondered if it's possible to use simple techniques available in the 1800s to make one today. Although there are no detailed specs of chariots used in the early days of the flea circus, I've seen some of them in videos. So, my design is largely based on those from Elsie Torp's Danish flea circus and those seen on the British Pathe Newsreels.''

 ''The chariot is approx 10mm long by 7mm wide and made from brass; the wheels are 5mm in diameter. The wheels and axle were turned on a lathe and the other parts were made by hand with hacksaw and files. Mostly the chariot was made without requiring magnification but I did use a magnifying glass for the filing and fitting (the mounting is an old Victorian era french coin about the size of a 2p). A digital camera was also used to check some of the details.''  More about this on his blog.

        ''Fleas are trained not to jump by keeping them in a container with a lid. Once trained, they are harnessed by carefully wrapping a thin gold wire around the neck of the flea. Once in the harness the fleas usually stay in it for life. The harnesses are attached to the props and the strong legs of the flea allows them to move objects significantly larger than themselves." -says Wikipedia.

Some of the mmost talented fleas in the world:

Samson the Magnificent - with his feats of strength
The Flying Ronaldos - with their death-defying trapeze routines
The Amazing Zippo - the flea who knows no fear on the tightrope a hundred times his body height above the ring.

Including Roy Maloy's circus flea,  holder of the world record for tallest stilts ever walked upon at 57 feet 0_o

  ^^ These are from the famous flea circus in Copenhagens Tivoli Gardens, which was open until the mid 60s, when it closed due to the lack of availability of performers.

       The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Insects condemns flea circuses en masse:

"Seven stick-insects, five spiders, an Asian bumble-bee, an American black cockroach, eight flies, and three dung beetles are among insects that are still kept in three UK flea circuses. Many of these insects are regularly made to perform tricks and manoeuvres unrepresentative of natural behaviour. One flea circus has recently advertised for even more wild insect acts - including scorpions, fly and butterfly larvae, ants and ladybirds - for its 2006 tour. "

''Flea circuses must be banned! - "the report shows wild insects in circuses in the UK and Europe apparently displaying repetitive, abnormal behaviour most likely associated with stress and the absence of a suitable physical and social environment necessary for their welfare."

Two anonymous comments got my attention from the Dark Roasted Blend original article :

''You can't actually train fleas. They are all glued to said chariots and such. QI recently covered this topic on BBC one and its torture from the fleas point of view.
so yeah, flea circus = glued fleas''

 ''Fleas lack both a central nervous system and sentience, and are thus unable to feel pain or suffer. It's like arguing that a bacteria suffers when we take an antibiotic...''


      Either way, it looks that this kind of shows were quite popular in the past, all over the place.  But it looks like in Uk you can still attend to this kind of ''entertaining''. If you ask me, I don't see the fun in it and you know I'm not the bashful type, ey ?

Now where the hell did I put that anti-insects spray ?!!!!

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