By Seann Lenihann
“Some of you who have been to our show over the last few days may have noticed that we no longer have lions and tigers in the show,” Tom Duffy’s Circus owner David Duffy posted to Facebook on June 21, 2013.
“The family who owned our lions and tigers had to leave unexpectedly at the end of last week due to personal reasons,” Duffy continued. “We worked hard and replaced the lions and tigers for the rest of this year with 12 beautiful white wolf dogs, amazing parrots, and a comedy horse act.”
The Irish Times reported that Duffy told media “the act had been replaced with 10 white Alsatians and huskies.” The “comedy horse act” reportedly features zebras, llamas, horses, ponies, and donkeys.
“After 25 years of having tigers and lions on our show, last Sunday was the last time for them to perform with us,” Duffy confirmed to Radio Telefis Eireann. Acknowledging that “one wrong move can be fatal” around big cats, Duffy did not anticipate adding a big cat act from another source.
In September 1995 a man reportedly broke into the Duffy’s Circus tiger trailer at 4:00 a.m. in Galway, tried to pet the tigers through a feeding slot in their cage, and lost both arms.
Tigers and lions had been exhibited for the 137-year-old Duffy Circus since 1988 by Tomas Chipperfield and other members of the Chipperfield family. The Chipperfields are descended from James Chipperfield, who offered a dancing bear act at the Thomas Frost Fair on the frozen Thames River outside of London in 1683-1684.
Tomas Chipperfield was perhaps the last member of the family to receive feature billing in a traveling show. More....