PACKED LIVES

Dickie Chipperfield's family has run circuses, trained and bred animals for 300 years. He likes to travel light
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The Independent Travel
I MOSTLY travel to Japan, New Zealand, the United States, Taiwan and Europe on average four to five days each month. I travel less with big cats now but arrange circus tours, contracts, check out sites, advertising, vets and government medical requirements. Contract discussions are usually held in unexciting city hotels.

I'm a bad packer. I just raid the wardrobe and throw anything in. My colour sense is terrible so my wife packs for me, putting each outfit and its accessories carefully together.

I try to take as little as possible; clothes that blend in without being too British, yet I like to retain my identity and not "go native". I take two pairs of shoes; one black and one brown never light shades. They have to be comfortable as I always try to see something of the city I'm in, even if it's just having a cup of coffee in a square. I'm not a raincoat- and-umbrella man as I've lost too many in hotels and airports. I'll take some casual wear and swimming things.

A bottle of kaoline and morphine mixture works for any stomach upsets and a camera records the circus set-ups. I never take a laptop or mobile, just pads of paper and pencils. I work a lot en route and make notes of all my discussions. I'm an airport-book buyer. I particularly like Wilbur Smith, his knowledge of animals and recording of their mannerisms is superb.

And although the fax has cut down on the amount of contractural paperwork I carry, I also take a battered briefcase containing photos and videos of our animals. When setting up a circus tour I take case histories including failures so people can see the standards we want and why.

If I'm taking big cats to Japan, for example, and it's mid-summer here and mid- winter there, I try to send them by sea for gradual acclimatisation. By air, we only use cargo carriers with access to the hold for their carers and some climate control as passenger plane holds get too cold. If it's a group of animals I make sure they are all facing each other and mothers go with younger animals. I pack trouble-shooting medicines, especially antibiotics against gastroenteritis that can be a problem with big cats and little treats such as molasses to mix in with their food.

My luxury is to take my wife. Travel is often very lonely and you never get the same perspective of a place seeing it through one pair of "eyes".

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