The Rose-Tinted Menagerie
A History of Animals in Entertainment, from Ancient Rome to the 20th Century
William M Johnson
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Hailed as ‘a ground-breaking work’ upon its original release in 1990, the unabridged, fully illustrated, 325-page edition of The Rose-Tinted Menagerie has now been republished by Iridescent in ebook form.
From the circus amphitheatres of ancient Rome, to the first travelling dolphin shows in America, Europe and the Far East… From the global trade in wild animals, to the captive chimps and dolphins exploited as tools of war… Through two thousand years of history, The Rose-Tinted Menagerie explores the human attitudes that have shaped our species’ conquest-driven relationship with nature as a whole, a psychology as evident in the taming of the wild beast for the circus arena, as it is in the razing of forests or the mass extinction of species.
Prior to its first publication in 1990, author and investigative journalist William M Johnson spent five years researching The Rose-Tinted Menagerie. His research took him to big tops, menageries and dolphin pools throughout the length and breadth of Europe, and to circus shows from as far afield as the Soviet Union and the United States. While some establishments have shut their doors forever — such as the infamous dolphin ‘striptease’ revue at the Moulin Rouge in Paris — these historical snapshots lucidly capture forms of cruelty and exploitation tragically still prevalent elsewhere, such as the travelling dolphin shows currently entertaining locals and tourists in the Far East.
From his own undercover work and from the testimony of scores of ex-circus and dolphin show staff, by 1990 Johnson had built up a formidable catalogue of evidence that, upon publication, dismayed wildlife experts, shocked the casual reader and provoked political debate: The Rose-Tinted Menagerie.
“It reads like a novel - its content sensational, but its scholarship impeccable. The author has spent five painstaking years piecing together a catalogue of barbarity which will shock and sicken millions of people who for years have unwittingly enjoyed the performances of captive animals…” — Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan
“William Johnson carries the argument for the abolition of wild animals in circuses to a point where it can no longer be silenced with the cry of ‘tradition — the circus is part of our heritage’. Children down the mines and slavery were as well.” — Virginia McKenna
“…Nothing in nature can quite match the wilful viciousness, manipulation and self-aggrandisement displayed by the human mammals who run The Rose-Tinted Menagerie. The setting for William Johnson’s angry book is a small and specialised one: the world of circuses, menageries, safari parks and dolphinaria; of animals as entertainment. But because the animal show is, literally, a dramatisation of our superiority over the animal kingdom, an enactment of little parables of mastery and servitude, it is also a microcosm of our whole relationship with nature…” — Richard Mabey, The Independent on Sunday
“A ground-breaking work of great importance…” — Tom Regan, BBC Wildlife Magazine
“An outstanding investigation…” — Naomi Lewis, Books of the Year, The Observer
“… should be read by anyone who cares about the welfare of animals.” — Dr Desmond Morris
“One of the most influential anti-captivity books of the last century… This is a timely relaunch of The Rose-Tinted Menagerie, and I would urge anyone who has not read it to do so… Of all the books that inspired me to want to campaign for whales and dolphins this has to be up there as one of the best.” — Chris Butler-Stroud, Whale & Dolphin Conservation Society
“… a useful, educational, and wonderful book…” — Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA
“The Rose-Tinted Menagerie… an outstanding book! A must read if you are on the dolphin trail — like me. I love the book.” — former trainer of ‘Flipper’ and now international dolphin campaigner, Ric O’Barry