CM – The Hungarian traveling circus remains suitable for the opening after COVID-19

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The Associated Press
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An employee feeds horses at the home base of the Florian Richter Circus in Szada, Hungary, on April 20, 2021. Human and four-legged artists are preparing to bring Hungary’s largest traveling circus back on the streets after the COVID-19 -Pandemic She has stopped shows for more than a year. (AP Photo / Laszlo Balogh)

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY –
Human and four-legged artists are preparing to bring Hungary’s largest traveling circus back on the streets after the COVID-19 pandemic suspended their shows for more than a year.

The Florian Richter Circus holds rehearsals from its off-season house in Sada, a small village outside the capital Budapest, in cautious anticipation of when the performances could start again.

The state of emergency was declared in Hungary only one day before the start of the troop’s spring season last year. The circus has not generated any income since then due to pandemic restrictions restricting events and public gatherings.

« It’s been almost a year and a half now, without anything. Of course I have to think as a businessman, as an artist and as a father at the same time, » said Florian Richter, the circus owner. « I’m the engine of this circus, so I can’t give up, I can’t get emotional. »

In addition to human actors, almost 50 different animals, including the Indian elephant Sandra, eight camels, five zebras, three ponies and 32 horses, make up the members of the troupe. Feeding the animals and paying for their dog handlers has used up almost all of the circus’ financial reserves, and Richter said he still doesn’t know when the pandemic rules will allow performances to resume.

« It’s all money, money, money. A lot of money has to be spent because it costs a lot to maintain a ranch this size, » he said.

The human performers must also remain fit physically and mentally so that they can take immediate action when the restrictions are lifted. Circus artist Kevin Richter, Florian’s son, said he and the other acrobats in the troupe had rehearsed throughout the pandemic « to be ready for any opening ».

« It is very difficult for all members. It is not easy to train without knowing what will happen tomorrow or even next month, » he said during a break in the training of his acrobatic group. « We used this time to practice new acts and to keep ourselves fit for every possibility of a premiere. »

Hungary has started lifting its pandemic restrictions in the past few weeks following a successful vaccination campaign. Further relaxation of the rules is expected in the coming days, even if deaths and infections remain high.

As the circus troupe hopes to resume their traditional summer premiere on July 1st, their two-legged members realize that the course of the pandemic could result in yet another lost season.

« The virus situation can be such that it is aborted, but not being ready is not an option for us, » said Richter. « This gives the entire team the energy and motivation to stay united. Our goal is to present the best traveling circus show in the country. »

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