Big cats entered Europe in the days of the Greeks (Alexander the Great) and, later, the Romans (during and after the Macedonian wars and the wars in Asia Minor). In those days, most were used for display. As soon as the supply had steadied, the Romans used them for the arena.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, they disappeared. Many centuries later, they were re-introduced in menageries by the new empires. When most of these had been turned into zoo's and the supply had been secured, they appeared in the circus. Last part of the 19th century.
There is a lot to be said about these acts and much of it has been covered over the years. They are now on their way out, meaning children in most countries will have to do with zoo's and safari parks in the future.
This thread is about predators used in circus acts and everything connected to it. It is the intention to get to a kind of overview regarding behaviour, habits and interactions. I propose to concentrate on observations made by trainers and handlers, as these have the opportunity to get to a more or less educated opinion.
The threads in the lion and tiger discussion indicate it is likely most posts will focus on interactions between lions and tigers. The nature of these also indicate severe debates will erupt at some point. In order to prevent a war, I propose to post facts only and let these speak for themselves. Interpretations, to an extent, allowed, but no opinion posts. This would ease the job of the modorators as well.
I read a limited number (there isn't much over here) of books. One of these was this one (Hagenbeck):
This one also was interesting (Tiede):
I also interviewed trainers (France, Germany, the United Kindom and Holland); zoo-directors; vets; transporters; cage hands and caretakers; biologists; conservators; two biologist who published on big cats (Dr. P. van Bree and Dr. H.L. Blonk); a researcher who published on humans and wild tigers in Sumatra (J. Bakels); numbers of collectors as well as people who were raised in countries where predators still roam today (India, Malaysia, China and Indonesia). Meaning an effort was made to learn a few things here and there.
The request is to post on everything connected to captive predators and refrain from opinion posts and flame wars. The aim is to get to some insight on the differences between captive and wild cats (bears ok as well). Could be of interest, as the time of rewilding seems to get ever closer.