When he first arrived in Las Vegas, Russian-trained juggler and clown Gregory Popovich incorporated his pet cat Snowbird into his act by chance, to overwhelming audience response. Inspired to expand the furry cast, Popovich headed to a local shelter where he was appalled at the number of abandoned pets. Now touring nationally with stops at Late Show with David Letterman and America’s Got Talent, Popovich leads a four-legged cast of 15 cats and 10 dogs, all former strays before becoming stars and, in some cases, internationally ranked poker players. Pups propel scooters across the stage and double-dutch jump rope as cats shimmy over parallel bars. European-style clowns and mesmerizing jugglers complement bouts of barking and meowing. And this season, the Pet Theater welcomes a new duo into the fold— a miniature horse and goat—who are certain to win audiences' hearts with their hoofed camaraderie and braying banter.
The first thing people notice about Circus Vargas is its big-top tent. Hand-fashioned in Milan from 90,000 square feet of cerulean-blue and sunshine-yellow fabric, the canopy, along with spotlights and saw-dust-covered floors, completed the illusion of an elegant lost era when used in the 2011 film Water for Elephants. The last thing people notice is the absence of animals. They're too busy gaping at a man balancing a 12-step ladder with his mouth.
Keeping its marvels strictly human, Circus Vargas builds on a 40-year history by blending classic feats of fearlessness with surprising new tricks. The show features magic tricks along with a skilled hand balancer, a speed juggler, and the wheel of destiny.
Size: 20 different productions currently active worldwide, featuring more than 1,300 performers of 50 different nationalities
Mission: Stir the imagination, invoke the senses, and provoke the emotions using theatrical production values, character-driven story lines, and no performing animals.
Audience: more than 160 million spectators (and counting) since its founding
Snakes slither in glass display cases, and lizards wriggle in the hands of trained handlers as they're held up in full view of a curious crowd. This is the scene as one of Repticon's presenters educates attendees on the biology, behavior, and typing speeds of exotic cold-blooded creatures at one of the year-round shows held in cities across the country. Reptile and amphibian breeders, scholars, and handlers engage audiences in lectures and demonstrations in the midst of live reptile exhibits, family activities, and displays for exotic-pet supplies. Presentations may focus on the genetics of large snake species, the specifics of exotic-pet care, and the effect that tiny hats have on the image of arachnids such as tarantulas, scorpions, and spiders.