I was invited to meet the exotic animal trainer, Cathy Carden, for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Fully Charged Tour, Gold Edition. I was excited to learn about life as a family in the circus. I was going to write to you about how a healthy family comes in all sizes and shapes, but I learned so much that I had to write to share it all. We will be going to the show tonight, they gave us tickets, this will be my first time seeing the circus!
After meeting and talking to Cathy I just was filled with awe and wonder at the behind the scenes. I learned so much, it was just amazing. I learned 7 great facts:
The Circus is All About Family
Not only is the circus about taking your family for a fun and exciting night. Even the behind the scenes is all about family.
Cathy and her husband, Brett, are both from multi-generational circus families. They grew up as animal trainers. Cathy started performing at the age of 5! They are now raising their two sons, 4 & 5, within the circus.
I thought it was neat to learn that Ringling Bros has their own nursery and school for the children of their shows. The children are actually in class when you are at the show!
The Animals are Part of The Family
Cathy grew up with two of the elephants in the show and her husband grew up with the third. You could see the love and passion she had for the animals as she talked about them.
She laughed about some of the funny quirks in the different personalities of each of the dogs. She looked back at when she lost one of her favorite horses to liver cancer and how he loved to show off how macho he was at each show.
They are bonded with each other. The animals are not only a part of her life and job they are part of their family!
Saving Grace for Some of the Animals
Half of the dogs in the show were actually saved from the pound. Cathy shared with me the amazing story of her larger dog, Sophia. At the pound at a very young age on her last chance, about to be put down, Cathy found her.
Sophia loved to jump on people, one reason she may have been at the shelter, so Cathy worked on training her to jump in the show routine. Cathy took something that Sophie loved and enjoyed, that others may have tried breaking her of, and turned it into a fun way to work and be rewarded.
The Animals Love Routine
One of my friends wrinkled her nose at me when I mentioned we were going to the circus. I asked what I should ask Cathy, what made my friend concerned for the animals. She thought it was sad how the animals had to constantly perform, how hard that must be.
Even before I got to ask my question Cathy mentioned how the elephants lived off routine. They love routine and structure. They love to work, it gives them a purpose. In the wild their purpose would have been just to survive. They do not need to work at surviving when in the circus, they don’t need to worry about finding food, water, and shelter. So performing becomes something they can put their focus on. They love it!
Did you know: Elephants live longer in the circus with the amazing care they get and the fact they get exercise. They need exercise just like we do.
The Animals Love to Perform
All the animals love to perform. Cathy talked about how she trained one of the dogs to do the jumps, but the dog just didn’t have passion for it, he didn’t enjoy it. What he enjoyed was spinning in circles, so that is now what he does in the show. He spins in circles and circles and then gets a treat.
“You can train them but you can’t force them. You work with what they enjoy.” Cathy said.
Others who had seen the show talked about how you could just see how the animals loved what they were doing. You can see the joy as they perform. I’m very excited to see this for myself tonight.
When the Animal is Ready They Can Retire
When an animal becomes tired of performing and doesn’t enjoy it anymore Ringling Bros has created the Center for Elephant Conservation for them to retire to. Not only is this great for animals that are not enjoying the performing life, but it is also great for helping with conservation, breeding, and scientific study of the disappearing Asian Elephants. They just celebrated the birth of their 26th calf!
Take Your Family!
Be sure to arrive early to join us as Ringling Bros. offers real face-time with performers at the fun, interactive All Access Pre-show Power-Up Party, which takes place on the arena floor one hour before the show and FREE to all ticket holders. Don’t miss this opportunity to get closer than ever to The Greatest Show On Earth!
- Friday, Sept. 13 7:00 PM
- Saturday, Sept. 14 11:30 AM, 3:30 PM & 7:00 PM
- Sunday, Sept. 15 12:30 PM & 4:30 PM
WHERE: Rose Garden Arena – 1 N Center Ct St #150, Portland, OR 97227
TICKETS: Tickets are available for purchase online at www.ringlingtickets.com or in-person at the Rose Garden Box Office.