Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Circus Fun

Last Sunday we drove up to Everett to see the circus. It was the first of many field trips for this school year. I was so excited when I found out that CVA, our virtual academy, approved the field trip and would be reimbursing us for three of the tickets (they cover enrolled students and one chaperon) and mileage. Without their help, we couldn't have afforded this trip. The circus is expensive!

The purpose of this field trip was more than just having a fun time. We are studying land animals and animal-based careers this year. We also always talk about traditional and nontraditional careers as part of our homeschooling. The circus covers each of these. We went to see the animals and what kind of things they could be taught to do, to spark discussion on animal trainers, and to see the variety of nontraditional careers that can be found at the circus.

Because we were all recovering from the flu, we skipped the most educational part of the trip, the pre-show. I was looking forward to seeing the animals up-close and whatever else would be available but I knew that the kids were not yet strong enough to do that much walking. So, we opted for just seeing the show. And it was a good show.
Here's Scott, Sammy, and Mika sitting in the stands. Scott was enjoying what was happening behind me. The kids, as you can see, were a bit subdued. Despite being subdued, they really did enjoy the show.
This lady was billed as the greatest part of the act which turned out to be entirely a comedy act. First, she got "stuck" hanging by her fancy head piece. Then she nearly hung herself by her flowing cape. At one point, she was hanging by her hair. All the while, she had two "helpers" who were doing everything BUT helping her. Finally, she ended up falling out of her outfit entirely. This final part was the only part I didn't care for because I found her undergarments ( a bra and corset which were covered by a full slip after moment) somewhat inappropriate for children.

Mika perked up the second she saw the first horse. Horses were used at several portions of the show. One portion involved vaulting, a sport we learned about recently at the Celebrate the Horse Festival a few months ago. Other horses seemed to be more for show with the riders wearing splendid costumes. These white ponies were very cute as well. We're not sure what breed they were but at least one of them was a true Shetland Pony with the ornery attitude typical of the breed.

During the intermission, they carefully brought out and readied the tigers. I was impressed with the care taken to ensure the public's safety. The tricks that the tigers performed weren't all that impressive, just lying down, sitting up, and climbing/jumping on platforms as commanded. However, the fact that the tigers could be trained to do these things was impressive. Most impressive of all (for us grownups at least) was the fact that the trainer lined up the tigers in a line and then turned his back on them to bow to the audience. Whoa! Would you turn your back on seven full-grown tigers?

This guy just made me laugh. The motorcycle runs up a steel wire and back down a few times with the lady hanging on down below. Then, working in unison, they rock the motorcycle until they are spinning around the wire in circles. Of course, it takes hanging on and balance to do this but I still found it amusing for two reasons. First, the motorcyclist himself looking kind of like Tommy Lee Jones and second because he was definitely getting up in years to be a circus performer. I kept thinking, "This is what circus performers do when they get old."

The elephants were a lot of fun. They walk out holding onto the tail of the elephant in front of them. Every other one had a beautiful female rider wearing a beautiful, colorful costume with a very long train over the elephants back. Some of the elephants walked around little stools with their front feet up on the stool. One elephant stool entirely on the stool and then sat down on his bottom. That same elephant later did a head/trunk stand. The finally was this scene here.

These guys were the coolest. They are sitting on what is basically a huge inflatable donut. They used their arms and bodies to get the donuts bouncing and then flipped with them and off of them. Sometimes in flipping off of them they landed on another donut being held by another member of their team; sometimes they landed on the ground. It was a unique and fun act.

I wish I could have gotten better photos in the low lighting. The ones I've shown here are the best I could get. What I couldn't get were the trapeze artists, the pole acrobats, and others. The human performers were, by far (for me), the most exciting and interesting part of the show. I kept waiting for the trapeze artists to fall or the pole acrobats to catch the pole between their legs a little too high up or the cage motorcyclists to crash into each other. Some of the acts really took a LOT of skill, training, and perfect timing. It was impressive.

I wanted to end by discussing the circus protesters we encountered outside the arena both before and after the show. I knew they would be there before we went and was happy to see that they were quietly protesting and well-behaved. I would have been unhappy if I felt they were unruly and causing safety concerns for the children. The police were there just in case also.

Because of the protesters, I was especially interested in the animals in the show. I wanted to see if there were any signs of their accusations. I'm happy to say that neither my husband nor myself could see any signs of neglect or abuse on the animals. On the contrary, every animal we saw appeared to be in perfect health. The animals that had fur (dogs, horses, tigers) had perfect coats that were shiny with health and very well groomed. The animals without fur (elephants) looked to be in perfect health as well. There wasn't a single scrape, sore, or smudge to be seen on any animal in the show. In fact, all of the animals appeared to be much healthier and in better shape than your typical well-loved pet. I've never seen a healthier dog or horse anywhere. Additionally, Ringling Brothers' website discusses the steps they take to maintain the health and happiness of their animals and how they exceed the federal guidelines. From what I saw, I believe them.

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Duckygirl said...

You got good photos! We went up there on Saturday for the show. My pictures were all blurry or dark :(
I completely agree with your thoughts on the lady and the undergarments not being kid friendly (I'd say family friendly though cuz I didn't really like that my husband saw that either)


and way cool that CVA funded that, I wasn't thinking ahead!