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New Article Up With VICE News: World’s Oldest Touring Circus Closes After Mexico Passes New Animal Rights Law

For Better or worse, I was there to cover the end of an era.




It’s Curtains for the World’s Oldest Touring Circus After Mexico Passes Animal Law

The world’s oldest continually touring circus called curtains on itself — for good — in rather anticlimactic fashion Sunday in Mexico City.

The Atayde Hermanos circus, founded in 1888 and playing to audiences all over Mexico ever since, shut down abruptly with a final performance that was only announced that very morning. The closure happened one month sooner than planned, in response to dwindling revenues and shrinking audiences after a citywide ban on the use of animals in circus acts was approved in June.

Opinions were divided over the law, with circus performers protesting in the streets, while animal rights groups welcomed the measure as a progressive step toward eliminating animal cruelty in Mexico — although other espectáculos públicos, such as bullfighting, are still legal.

The final Atayde Hermanos show took place Sunday at 8pm under a big top off a major thoroughfare in Colonia Portales, a lower middle-class district of Mexico City, 126 years after the first performances in Mexico.

According to Guinness World Records, the Atayde Brothers is the world’s oldest touring circus — although VICE News couldn’t confirm how long that listing will remain valid after this week. Originally, the Atayde circus planned to run its performances in Colonia Portales through October, but circus leaders said government propaganda about the new law was affecting ticket sales.

“There is a tendency in the world to oppose the mistreatment of animals — of course, no one’s in favor of that,” Federico Serrano, a spokesman for Atayde Hermanos, told VICE News after the circus’s last act. “In Mexico, it’s good politically to attack the most vulnerable sector that works with animals — the circus — and ignore the others where the real mistreatment is.” (READ MORE)

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