For many, going to the circus is one of their fondest childhood memories. The animals, the excitement, the thrill, the popcorn – until accusations of animal cruelty put a damper on the whole thing. But aside from that, it’s easy to see why parents and children alike flock to those traveling, round tents year after year.

Those accusations, though, have led to a worldwide decline in the circus’ popularity (rightfully so), and legal restrictions on animal performances in many countries have made it a less attractive way to make a living, financially speaking.

But this German circus has gotten creative, finding a way to satisfy both those seeking the magic of close-up encounters and those worried about the safety and welfare of performing animals: holograms.

Circus Roncalli has been in business since 1976, but they’ve only recently begun using holographic animals in their performances. They are projected onto a 360-degree screen, which means there isn’t a bad seat in the house for what seems like a show that goes way above and beyond the offerings of a regular circus.

Because the animals aren’t real, the Circus Roncalli doesn’t let reality hold them back. Among the “regulars” like elephants and tigers, you’ll find giant fish and other species that wouldn’t exactly feel at home elsewhere.

And don’t worry – clowns, acrobats, and magicians are still very much a part of the “live” performance.

That said, I’m pretty sure the holographic animals are, and will remain, the stars of the show.

And now the circus can say – and mean – that no animals were harmed in the pursuit of your entertainment. How great is that?

They’re touring Europe now, but one can hope they’ll bring their show across the pond soon – or that an American circus will take a page from their holographic book.