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Temat: Kultura i obyczaje
A flea circus refers to a circus sideshow attraction in which fleas are attached (or appear to be attached) to miniature carts and other items, and encouraged to perform circus acts within a small housing.
The first records of flea performances were from watch makers who were demonstrating their metal working skills. Mark Scaliot in 1578 produced a lock and chain which were attached to a flea. Flea performances were first advertised as early as 1833 in England, and were a main carnival attraction until 1930. Some flea circuses persisted in very small venues in the United States as late as the 1960s. The flea circus at Belle Vue amusement park, Manchester, England, was still operating in 1970. At least one genuine flea circus still performs (at the annual Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany) but most flea circuses are a sideline of magicians and clowns, they use electrical or mechanical effects instead of real fleas.
Fleas live only for a short time and are not trained.
Fleas are separated by jumping and running fleas. Once sorted, they are harnessed by carefully wrapping a thin gold wire around the neck of the flea. Once in the harness the fleas usually stay in it for life. The harnesses are attached to the props and the strong legs of the flea allows them to move objects significantly larger than themselves.
Jumping fleas are used for kicking small lightweight balls. They are carefully given a ball; when they try to jump away (which is not possible because of the harness) they shoot the ball instead. Running fleas are used to pull small carts and vehicles or to rotate a Ferris wheel.
There are historical reports of fleas glued to the base of the flea circus enclosure, instruments were then glued to the flea performers and the enclosure was heated. The fleas fought to escape giving the impression of fleas playing musical instruments.
Some flea circuses may appear to use real fleas, but don't. A variety of electrical, magnetic, and mechanical devices have been used to augment exhibits. In some cases these mechanisms are responsible for all of the "acts," with loose fleas in the exhibit maintaining the illusion.
Some "flea circuses" do not contain any fleas at all and the experience and skill of the performer convince the audience of their existence.
In much the same way that viewers know that a magician won't really cut a girl in half, she or his showmanship allows viewers to suspend disbelief in order to enjoy the show.