circus

Have you ever wisecracked that you’d like to escape your troubles by running off to join a circus? It was no joke for brothers George and Willie Muse at the turn of the last century. These African American brothers, born albinos to a poor sharecropper’s family, were kidnaped from the tobacco fields in rural Virginia. For decades, they were displayed as freaks in the circuses that crisscrossed America for many years.

When Feld Entertainment, owners of Ringling Bros., announced it's canceling the circus after nearly 150 years, it was one of the biggest victories yet for animal welfare activists.

How the circus treats it animals — especially elephants and big cats — has long been a focus for groups like the Humane Society of the U.S and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. They see it as part of a larger change going on in this country — about how Americans view animals and the way we treat them.