Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Three Asian elephants, Carol, Dutchess and Patty, each took their turns taking carrots from a group of CSU vet students touring the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus Friday in Loveland.
Trainers and staff from the circus led the students on the behind-the-scenes tour in an effort to help dispel misconceptions about circus animal care.
“I am hoping they can see firsthand how our trainers take care of the animals,” said Jason Gibson, production manager for the Zing Zang Zoom Gold Tour. “It’s a fantastic opportunity, and we are excited to have them here. Obviously, the students are having a blast being so close to these majestic animals.”
The CSU vet students began the tour with a question-and-answer session with Gibson and the show’s veterinary technician, Jessica Clowers.
“It is good for them to come out and see how the animals are taken care of and see our resources,” Clowers said.
Clowers and Gibson emphasized that the animals receive the utmost care.“We are not going to force an animal to work,” Gibson said. “That is unacceptable and unacceptable training.”
They added that a veterinary technician travels with the animals on the shows and that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey also have local veterinarians on call in the cities where they perform.
“I love seeing the animals getting excited to perform when they’re backstage,” Clowers said.
The students also received information on the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida. Asian elephants are an endangered species, and the center helps with research and breeding. The center also serves as a retirement home for some of the show’s elephants that no longer perform.
“I like that Ringling Bros. have the Elephant Conservation Center and that a lot of their proceeds go to getting Asian elephants off the endangered species list,” said Laura Hoon-Hanks, a second-year vet student at CSU.
Part of the proceeds from each ticket sold is donated to the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation, according to the show’s program.
The tour continued with an up-close encounter with some of the circus animals, including horses, camels, dogs and the elephants. Students were also able to speak with the show’s animal trainers.
“I have wanted to be a vet since I can remember,” said Randi Giddings, another second-year vet student at CSU.
She added that her favorite part of the tour was getting to feed the elephants.
“Standing next to these guys, they could move their trunk and probably kill me. It’s just amazing,” she said.
The circus trainers and staff seemed to agree on one thing: They love their job.
“We put smiles on people’s faces for a living; it’s awesome,” Gibson said.
Posted by Buckles at 8/30/2011 05:51:00 AM