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Is this the world’s longest and most gruelling travelling circus journey?

By Svetlana Skarbo, Olga Gertcyk
02 October 2019

Elephants and tigers entertain public in cities along staggering 16,000km (9,950 mile) route.

One of the Togni circus elephants pictured resting in Yakutsk. Picture: YSIA

Human and animal artists from the Togni circus have already twice covered the distance equivalent to a trip from London to Russia’s easternmost city of Pevek, and their journey is not over yet. 

Last September they set off from Kazan in Republic of Tatarstan, and continued moving east getting to places which no other elephant circus has ever reached. 

In July this year people in Yakutsk, Russia’s capital of permafrost and diamonds, were stunned to see female elephants Roni and Carla on a casual walk about the city. 

To reach the world’s coldest city, the circus was on the road for ten months, leaving behind cities like Izhevsk, Nizhny Tagil, Omsk, Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk, Irkutsk and Russia’s Pacific capital Vladivostok. 

Every one of this cities enjoyed several days, in some cases weeks, of performances. 

Social media went into a happy overdrive with pictures of beautifully trained animals and their human colleagues working in seemingly perfect harmony. 

Is this the world’s longest and most gruelling travelling circus journey?


Is this the world’s longest and most gruelling travelling circus journey?


Is this the world’s longest and most gruelling travelling circus journey?


Is this the world’s longest and most gruelling travelling circus journey?


Is this the world’s longest and most gruelling travelling circus journey?
The route the circus has done so far in kilometres and miles; the Togni circus elephants pictured during one of the performances, during their time in Yakutsk and on way. Pictures: The Siberian Times, YSIA, Togni circus


Yakutsk was the first city where locals complained about the visiting troupe and launched a petition to ban the animal circus. The petition was supported by thousands of voices. 

The Togni team described itself in articles promoting upcoming performances as the oldest circus dynasty in Italy. It promised true Italian passion and unforgettable impressions from brothers Davio and Corrado. 

In some of the cities it said that the shows were supported by the Russian State Circus company. 

Italy banned animals circuses in Autumn 2017, which might explain why the Togni circus decided to embark on this astonishingly long journey around Russia. 

Flagging the fact of ‘inevitable’ cruelty in training elephants and tigers, where hooks and electric shockers have to be used, Irina Novozhilova, from Russian VITA animal rights protection organisation, said: 'Circuses that go on tours travel for hundreds of kilometres. 

‘Little known is that there is a quota for anaesthesia for animals. 

‘It means that should something happens, the existing quota will not be enough for even a single elephant. 

‘If an elephant breaks its leg, there will be no way to anaesthetise it.’  

She said: ’Circus is always cruel beyond limits, and circus with animals should be banned.’

Is this the world’s longest and most gruelling travelling circus journey?


Is this the world’s longest and most gruelling travelling circus journey?


Is this the world’s longest and most gruelling travelling circus journey?


Is this the world’s longest and most gruelling travelling circus journey?


Is this the world’s longest and most gruelling travelling circus journey?


Is this the world’s longest and most gruelling travelling circus journey?


Is this the world’s longest and most gruelling travelling circus journey?

Elephants and tigers entertain public in cities along staggering 16,000km (9,950 mile) route. Pictures: Galina Mozolevskaya, The Togni circus, YSIA


The Togni Russian and Italian artists dismissed the cruelty claims. 

The show’s art director and host Sergey Bondarchuk said: ‘Such circuses are traditional. We love our animals a lot, they are our family. 

‘They too love the circus, they get bored without work. Our animals will live and die with us, they won't survive in the wild.' 

Moving the circus as far as Yakutsk was a long-time dream for the whole team. 

‘Both Italians and myself were dreaming of performing in Yakutsk, we've been dreaming about such a trip because Yakutsk circus is the northernmost! I am from a circus family myself, I am 48 this year and I've been working in circus since the age of four’, Bondarchuk said. 

Is this the world’s longest and most gruelling travelling circus journey?


Is this the world’s longest and most gruelling travelling circus journey?


Is this the world’s longest and most gruelling travelling circus journey?


Is this the world’s longest and most gruelling travelling circus journey?


Is this the world’s longest and most gruelling travelling circus journey?

Is this the world’s longest and most gruelling travelling circus journey? The Togni circus's human and animal artists have already twice covered the distance equivalent to a trip from London to Russia’s easternmost city of Pevek, and their journey is not over yet. Pictures: YakutiaMedia, The Togni circus


Elephants, tigers and smaller animals like horses and ostriches travel in trucks with two independent air and two separate heating systems.

Each truck has an autonomous generator which keeps ventilation going even if it breaks down. 

The caravan has to stop every three hours to clean and feed the animals. 

'It was a hard trip, but everyone is healthy and feeling well. Animals are like children for us who also feed us, and if something happens to them we lose our jobs’, said Bondarchuk as the circus stayed for a month in Yakutsk. 

The Togni Elephants and Tigers show is currently in Kemerovo, southwest Siberia.

Their last performance is scheduled for 6 October, with tickets selling from 500 to 2000 roubles (£6 and £25, or $7 and $30).

It is unclear where the circus will go next. 

Comments (4)

I'm always happy when a wild "zoo animal" has finally had it with the abuse from these trainers and and attacks and kill or maims them. How can any person be allowed to make a career out of animal abuse?
SteveC, Florida US
15/10/2019 03:23
0
0
Its a shame that we still witness this stupid game with animals...called Circus. Do you think that animals enjoy it?? Evolve! Circus should be restricted to people only!
Matthew Tabone, Malta
03/10/2019 13:51
6
2
The ERA of the travelling Circus is over - we all have cars.

Give these beautiful animals their freedom...
Please stop, A Circus can survive with acrobats with clowns and maybe even horses and dogs, who are used to being with people.

No more wild creatures to be dragged around the world

+ these animals are more talented then most humans !!!
Grant HIbbs, Canada
03/10/2019 04:46
8
0
It’s unbelivable in this time that anyone would want to mistreat any animal to such a dreadful lifestyle.
Circus belong in the past animals are sentient beings who need to be respected and given a good life, maybe the circus owners love them and think they are continuing an old tradition but no.
In these days it is not acceptable, surely there should be dignity and respect.
Please stop, ficus can survive with acrobats with clowns and maybe even horses and dogs, who are used to being with people.
No more wild creatures to be dragged around the world.
Mary Clemmensen, United Kingdom
02/10/2019 18:25
9
0
1

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