10 Facts About Circus Animals

Flea Circuses Are Real (Even if the Fleas Aren't)
Fleas aren't simply pest, according to some, they're highly trainable. Hulton Archive/Stringer

Not to diminish the importance of humane animal treatment, but my goodness — the circus should provide us a happy headspace. Let's move on to some cheerier animal facts, by taking a closer look — at one circus attraction that is controversial because nobody is quite certain that it exists in the first place. Step right up, ladies and gentleman, to learn a little bit about the flea.

The one fact we can't absolutely positively confirm is the big one: Are there actually fleas in the flea circus? Professor A.G. Gertsacov — who is the ringmaster and owner of the Acme Miniature Flea Circus — swears he uses pulex irritans (human fleas, bigger than the ones you'd find on Fido or Miss Kitty) in his show to do things like pull teeny chariots [source: Viera]. But that doesn't mean that every show is bonafide — some performers really do use electronics or magnets to make props dance.

But the truth is that in 1578, a smithy named Mark Scalliot really did attain a level of fame in London for fashioning a little gold collar for a flea — the earliest flea circus recorded [source: Furgurson].