The Rose-Tinted Menagerie
A History of Animals in Entertainment, from Ancient Rome to the 20th Century
Republished by Iridescent Publishing on Amazon Kindle, July 2012
by William M Johnson
From the chimps' tea party to the latest dolphin acts, the façade of fun and games offered by the circus hides a bitter reality. If not openly dripping blood as in ancient Rome, today's rose-tinted menagerie is still based on cruelty and deprivation at all stages- from the capture of wild animals through their training, confinement and transport. This book exposes once and for all the claim that performing animals can provide harmless entertainment.
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.
"Circuses, dolphineria and most zoos ought clearly to be abolished- worldwide. Mr Johnson's book tells us why and constitutes an important contribution to the growing power of the Animal Rights Movement." - Richard Adams
"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 ot'tradition-the circus is part of our heritage' children down the mines and slavery were as well." - Virginia McKenna
"William Johnson has been investigating with painstacking attention detail. His report on the modern managery should be read by anyone who cares about the welfare of animals." - Desmond Morris
"...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
"... a useful, educational, and wonderful book..." - Ingrid E. Newkirk