Victorian Flea Circuses: A Lost Art Form?

The flea circus sounds funny, but it was once a serious (if strange) performance type. The fleas are actually trained to 'behave' and 'perform' in certain ways - even harnassed with tiny wires. Of course, for every such sensation there are its detractors - and perhaps with good reason. In this day and age, there are some who say that a flea circus constitutes animal cruelty. Either way, these images and this history are amazing.

A flea, with legs finer than a human hair, can pull up to 700 times its own weight! A flea can lift up to 60 times its own weight! A flea can jump over 150 times its own height! When we build circuses on Mars, or asteroids one day, then we'll perhaps witness similar dexterity, but for now - consider a humble flea:


From the Upcoming ueue, submitted by Urbanist.

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Flea circuses are a well-known hoax. Why in hell would you spend three months training a creature people can barely see, only for it to die three months later - when you can get the exact same effect by using magnets and shellacked flea carcasses glued to the end of a wire?
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I would skip the flea circus altogether and poison the hell out of them. They are vermin, and I have no reason to want them alive, even for my own entertainment.

I did see a fascinating show on Victorian life that had a whole segment on flea circuses. As much as I admire the creativity, I can't help but think that fleas are better off dead.
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