pets::the tiniest circus

The Flea Circus! It's a lost art, but it's colorful history will certainly live on. I remember my grandmother telling me stories of visiting the flea circus when she was a little girl living in London at the turn of the century and I was fascinated. She was also a great storyteller! ;) How on earth can such tiny pests perform feats of strength and endure death defying acts like pulling brass chariots, being shot through rings of fire and walking on hair thin tightropes? When you think about it, the flea makes the perfect circus performer and is much smarter and stronger than you would imagine. With legs finer than a human hair, it can pull up to 700 times it's own weight,lift up to 60 times it's own weight and jump over 150 times it's own height. And the flea circus ringmaster is more dedicated and eccentric then you would think too!
Take for instance Else Torp, a danish ring mistress to a tiny flea circus that she ran single handedly in Denmark's Tivoli Park in the 1950's. Not only was training her teeny tiny protege a grueling act in itself but feeding them was as well. Her flea troupe consisted of 60 human fleas which she purchased for thirty cents each from a local fisherman. Training the fleas required keeping them in covered containers which taught them not to jump. Then the tiny beasts were permanently harnessed around their necks with gold wire that could be hitched up to the various circus apparatus, (enter The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Insects - yes, there is such a society )
Considering that the flea's lifespan is only about one year, that it takes six months for them to mature enough to be trained and three months to train them - Else's schedule was tight giving her flea friends only three months of performance time before departing this earth. Feeding them was not pretty either. The dedicated mistress fed them her own blood, allowing them to graze on her arm for an hour and a half, twice a day. Eeeeeeeeeeeeewwwwwwwww - Now that's devotion!

With the advent of vacuum cleaners in the mid 1900's , flea circus acts were sucked into extinction. It's not very likely that a flea circus act will be coming to a town near you anytime soon-(except maybe on your dog) but they are JUST COOL anyway! Watch the little performers here.

via johntorpmusic

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