Only our older readers will remember what some circuses used to be like. Miserable elephants performing pointless, humiliating tricks. Mangy-looking lions cowering before a man wielding a chair. Animal rights hardly existed, and conditions for some of the captive performers in those bad old days were grim. In recent decades things have improved by leaps and bounds - with the notable exception of Spain, where animal cruelty remains a perverted “entertainment” for a pathetic few.
Fast forward to the present and we find Zippos Circus (in Falkirk this week) showing us how it should be done - while celebrating the 250th anniversary of real circus tradition.
Until you have seen the show, you could not possibly imagine that the familiar household budgie could be so entertaining - or so skilled.
What about those magnificent horses and their Cossack riders - they must be the healthiest big horses in Britain, and the proudest.
Death-defying trapeze acts, clowns that are actually funny; a genteel ringmaster who puts you in mind of some classic English film comedy actor ... music, laughter, pizzazz.
Small wonder that this particular circus has earned rave reports from serious reviewers on both sides of the border.
In a world dominated by technology - and a film world all but lost to formulaic CGI movies with neither plot nor acting - this is one form of entertainment that for generations has been as much a part of summer as buckets and spades.
And promoters are only telling the truth when they promise this circus will entertain the whole family.
Everyone leaves feeling they have had a great time at this peppy, fun-filled annual treat – probably the budgies most of all.