Circus family reopens Moscow’s unique cat theater

Updated 02 June 2013

Circus family reopens Moscow’s unique cat theater

Up on a brightly lit Moscow stage a clown loudly welcomes the stars of today’s show — 20 highly trained cats.
Packing out the auditorium with excited children and adults, the feline performers are the main attraction at the world-famous and unique cat theater.
Founded just before the collapse of the Soviet Union, the theater — run jointly by its founder, circus clown Yuri Kuklachev, and his sons Dmitry and Vladimir — has recently reopened after a major renovation.
From the very first moments in the venue — even before the show begins — visitors are plunged into the feline kingdom’s unique atmosphere: some cats watch spectators’ arrival from behind a glass wall while others are already darting about the stage.
When a bell rings for the beginning of the show and the curtain opens, the audience explodes with applause: on stage, a cat balances on a wheel spun by a clown as a furry co-star skateboards on its hind legs.
Then a conjuring number follows and a cat appears to bang a drum as a dove emerges from under a cloth in a clown’s hand.
Other numbers — less acrobatic but equally difficult — also show that training the cats must require well-honed skills.
“With cats, each show is an improvization,” Yuri Kuklachev’s younger son, Vladimir, told AFP.
“Cats often behave instinctively and one should always be behind them as they just do what they want.”
“Some cats enjoy the stage, they love it when we watch them attentively, while others do not like noise or lights and sit motionless,” he added.
The 30-year-old former ballet dancer said it took him a year to get used to training cats.
“With dogs it is easier, we show them what to do once, and that is it.”
His father Yuri, a legendary Soviet-era clown, started training cats to stand out from the competition and established the theater in 1990 on Moscow’s central Kutuzov Avenue.
Every show involves around 20 cats and the theater has 100 in total.
Before the theater reopened, animal rights groups called for its shows be banned, saying that the animals suffered abuse from trainers.
But Vladimir Kuklachev dismissed the criticism, arguing that recent inspections found no violations in his theater.
One of the young children watching the show, Daria Kalinovich, said she was thrilled by cats’ talents.
“I loved so much seeing the cats jumping up and down, running after a ball and juggling,” she said.
The theater’s shows — “The Cat Thief,” “The Puss in Boots,” “The Nutcracker and the King of Rats,” and even “Swan Lake” — run throughout the year, with teams of feline performers led alternately by Kuklachev-senior and his two sons.

Besides Russia, the theater has toured France, Canada, Japan, the United States and China.
It is not the only unusual animal theater in Moscow.
The Durov animal theater founded in 1912 has performers including a raccoon, ravens and mice who run a miniature railway.


Fans praise Syrian vlogger as he cooks kabsa for Taal victims in the Philippines

Updated 19 January 2020

Fans praise Syrian vlogger as he cooks kabsa for Taal victims in the Philippines

  • He drove around the province to give away packed meals, including a 1000 chicken wings and Arabic dish kabsa
  • Around 80,000 people have been displaced since the eruption covered nearby towns with thick charcoal-like ash

DUBAI: A Syrian vlogger has visited communities in the Philippines who were affected by the recent volcanic eruption, giving out care packages and packed meals.

Philippines-based Basel Manadil, also known online as the “The Hungry Syrian Wanderer,” posted a video on YouTube of his recent trip to rescue centers around Taal Volcano, which erupted last week.

“When I first saw the news about Taal eruption, I immediately thought of the people who will be affected and will be needing immediate help,” the social media personality said on his YouTube account that has over 1.5 million subscribers.

Manadil, who has been living the Philippines for more than five years, distributed boxes of donations that included medical supplies.

Watch the vlog here:

He drove around the province to give away packed meals, including a 1000 chicken wings and Arabic dish kabsa, which he said he prepared for more than 10 hours.

“I never cooked before I left Syria, so my mom would be so proud once she sees this,” Manadil wrote on Facebook.

The Philippines remained on high alert days after the devastating eruption of the Taal Volcano, a famous tourist spot just 50 kilometers north of the capital Manila.

Around 80,000 people have been displaced since the eruption covered nearby towns with thick charcoal-like ash.