Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 June 2019

Dubai circus troupe forced to defend show after case of mistaken identity

Protesters confused Latino Circus — an all-person troupe based in Dubai — with a circus show of the same name using live animals and currently running at Last Exit Al Khawaneej

Latino Circus, an all-people troupe, has been inundated with complaints after being confused with a show of the same name that uses live exotic animals. Courtesy Latino Circus Dubai
Latino Circus, an all-people troupe, has been inundated with complaints after being confused with a show of the same name that uses live exotic animals. Courtesy Latino Circus Dubai

A Dubai circus troupe has been forced to defend itself after being confused for a show of the same name that came under fire for using rare wild animals.

Protesters confused Latino Circus, an all-person troupe based in Dubai, with another show currently running at Last Exit Al Khawaneej, one of four Last Exit branches across Dubai — prompting a series of complaints to the wrong company.

Activists were angry that the Latino Circus show at Al Khawaneej used rare white lions and dogs in the performance, claiming there is no place for animals in entertainment.

Miguel Angel Polania Puertas, who runs the all-person Latino Circus, was forced to post a message on the troupe’s Facebook page last week to tell animal rights protesters it had nothing to do with the show currently stationed at Last Exit.

“Just to let everyone knows that this is not us,” said the post.

“We don’t and we will never use wild animals in our shows.”

Mr Puertas, 38, from Colombia, set up his troupe six years ago. He said he first became aware of the name of the other show, which is run by a company called Eventoh Em, two years ago, but did not think too much about it at the time.

“For me they are not competition because we provide open-air performances,” he said.

“It didn’t affect my business at the time. I thought everyone needs to work, everyone needs to eat. And I even visited the circus three years ago. It was really cool. Then, they didn’t use animals.”

But over time people did start to get in touch with his company, mistakenly believing they could book tickets for the other show.

“I was getting calls every day,” he said. It then became a serious problem for him when the furore erupted over the use of the animals in the Eventoh Em act.

“People against the use of animals were coming to point the finger at me, thinking I was using white lions. They started to write posts against us on Facebook.

“I had to share a link just to clarify it was not us. I’ve not received any complaints since. And the people are even helping now by sharing my posts,” said Mr Puertas.

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The Latino Circus at Al Khawaneej had boasted their show featured “four white lions direct from Africa”. White lions are extremely rare, with only around 300 left worldwide.

Their colour is due to a rare recessive mutation, which causes the lion’s coat to vary from almost white to blonde, rather than the normal tawny colour. A cub is born white if both its parents carry the recessive gene.

All companies involved in staging the performance came under heavy criticism, including Last Exit, which was flooded with negative reviews on its Facebook page.

The circus was suspended last week for a time following the backlash, but it is understood to be up and running again, this time without the lions.

It is also understood the animals will not be reintroduced while the show is being staged at Last Exit for the duration of the run until December 21.

Both Meraas, the owner of Last Exit, and Eventoh Em have been contacted for comment.

Updated: December 14, 2018 01:07 PM

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