One of the most influential anti-captivity books of the last Century, and hailed as ‘a ground-breaking work’ upon its original release in 1990, The Rose-Tinted Menagerie explores the role of animals in entertainment, from the gladiatorial contests of ancient Rome and the travelling shows of the Middle Ages, to the circuses and dolphinaria of the 20th century.
When I began with WDCS some twenty years ago, The Rose-Tinted Menagerie was the best primer I could have read. It established in me the burning desire to see dolphin shows end once and for all. It still shocks me that the disturbing shows that Bill highlighted in the early 1990s still blight us now. Maybe they are not the same shows, but there are still captures from the wild, and places like the Georgia Aquarium try to justifty the suffering they cause in the name of ‘education’.
Of all the books that inspired me to want to campaign for whales and dolphins this has to be up there as one of the best.
– Chris Butler-Stroud
This is a timely relauch of The Rose-Tinted Menagerie, and I would urge anyone who has not read it to do so.
And if you did read it some twenty years ago, then re-read it. It’ll show you we still have a way to go in this fight, but knowing where we have come from is the first step in knowing where the journey still needs to take us and what we need to achieve.
About the author
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. 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. While some establishments have since shut their doors forever — such as the infamous dolphin ‘striptease’ revue at the Moulin Rouge in Paris — these historical snapshots lucidly expose forms of cruelty and exploitation tragically still all too prevalent elsewhere, from the brutal capture of dolphins from the wild, to the sordid travelling dolphin shows currently entertaining locals and tourists in the Far East.