FACT: In the 1950’s there was Negus the Tightrope-Walking Lion. Over six months Negus had been coaxed with many hunks of meat, into walking across pairs of ropes which we raised up to 3 metres off the ground. An amazing spectacle and Negus was a big seller for the Bertram Mills’ circus during his performing life. Do please however note that Negus is not the first tightrope walking animal. Merely the first successful one.
In the 1780’s the founder of Modern Circus itself, Philip Astley, claimed to have trained horses to tightrope walk. Then there is the donkey.
1734, an attempt was made. A rope was cast between a safe location and a church tower in Derby. It was a downwards slope, a rope slide or zip line. A donkey was to traverse it. A crowd gathered below and disaster struck. Nothing was heard but dreadful cries and nothing but confusion could be seen.
‘Legs and arms went to destruction. In this dire calamity, the ass, which maimed others, was unhurt himself, having a pavement of soft bodies to roll over’
That is the rocky history of Tightrope-Walking animals. Something of a rarity these days.