French circus replaces wild animals with holograms

Circuses are innovating new ways to include popular animals in shows, as a ban on using wild animals in performances is planned in France

25 January 2021
A holographic dancing bear performs in a circus show. French circus replaces wild animals with hologramsA holographic bear dances onstage in rehearsals with other circus performers
By Joanna York

A French circus is to replace animals used in its shows with holograms.

Circus founders Sandrine and Joseph Bouglione are currently planning a new circus show featuring holographic whales and a dancing bear, both projected onto a screen on stage. 

Mr Bouglione told news source FranceInfo: “The idea is to show that we can be entertained and amazed by the beauty and charisma of wild animals while leaving them in peace in their natural habitats."

Mr Bouglione has used animals such as tigers and camels in his previous circus shows.

Animal replacements used in other countries

The practice of using holograms to replace circus animals is already widespread in Germany. 

And in California theme parks have even begun using animatronic dolls with silicone skin to replace dolphins in shows.

Roger Holzberg, creative director at Edge Innovations, who helped create the robot dolphins said: “The reality is that in many ways they are very similar [to real dolphins]. The difference is that we don’t have to worry about breeding programs and security.”

 

Ban on circus animals in France in coming years

This comes as a “gradual” ban on circus animals in France was proposed by the government in September last year.

Ecology Minister Barbara Pompili said: “It is time that our ancestral fascination with wild animals no longer translates into situations where we favour their captivity over their well-being.”

Rather than giving a date for the ban, the minister said the process would take some years. Part of this process is the rehoming the 500 wild animals currently used in circuses in France. 

Read more about Europe’s first elephant sanctuary near Limoges

The government has also allocated €8 million to circuses to help them transition away from using animals. Ms Pompili said: “We are asking circuses to reinvent themselves. That will entail a period where they need support and the state will be by their side.”

The ban will currently only be implemented for travelling circus shows and dolphin aquariums – meaning some performances in France may still feature wild animals.  

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