I don’t remember ever wishing I could be a circus performer. The closest
I’ve come is during our recent stay in Sarasota, Florida, and my ride on a circus elephant. I’m sure that anyone who has ridden a tame elephant, knows you just settle in, with legs hugging a very broad back while being led around a circle. Do take notice of my waving hand as I try to fake the performance of a professional. A hand stand was not even slightly considered.
Sarasota is the “Circus Capital Of The World,” and circus acts and performances are plentiful here. It all began when John Ringling first visited the town in 1909 and then in the 1920’s moved his circus headquarters here. Many other circuses followed giving the area a unique identity. The Ringling home, museum and art collection are attractions that just may set a person’s heart to wishing that they could have been a part of such an exciting industry. Today, as its legacy continues, the town has its own resident circus. A school is also operated, offering training to those talented individuals with a heart for circus performing.
My husband and I visited the circus last year, so we decided to see the performance at “The Big Cat Habitat.” It is so named because homes are provided for abandoned tigers, lions and other animals. This time of the year, a special celebration is held. Many acts join in the event in support of the work at the “Big Cat Habitat.” It’s during the event that funds are raised to enable the work to continue here and on this day there were also camels, elephants, bears, all sized monkeys, farm animals and exotic birds, but mostly big cats. We learned that there are only about 3000 tigers living in the wild today.
More goes on here than just supplying homes for these animals. Kay Rosaire is a big cat lover, and eighth generation animal trainer from one of England’s most respected families of animal trainers of both lions and tigers. Her son, Clayton represents the ninth generation in this animal handling family and did a magnificent job during the big cats’ performances. He began entering the cages, to face the animals alone, at age 17. The Rosaires think of the big cats as friends and train them through a system of rewards. Their emphasis is for conservation of these majestic, big cats and endangered species. They did remind the audience to never trust a tiger and that big cats make poor pets.
We’d never seen pigs perform before, but they did here. Included was a delightful dog act, and a very talented acrobatic performance on the backs of trotting horses. The big cats stole the show with the elephants coming in second. Glad one of them still had the energy to be involved in my one and only circus performance.