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Small Town - Big Circus, great time

By Andrew Pollack on 10/15/2006 at 09:16 PM EDT

The circus is in town, and just for a couple of days. Portland isn't a big place. Here in Maine, it's been years since the big top came to town so at the last minute I decided to take Coryn and Caitlin. Ari had other plans already. This is the same big circus that does the three rings in big stadiums -- but here in small town USA it's just the one ring.

What a treat to see this show in so small a venue! Before the start, all the kids & parents gathered around the ring for a pre-show right there on the floor. The kids got to go back and see the animals -- including three huge Asian elephants, and talk to performers.

Coryn and Caitlin got the most amazing treat -- after taking about five minutes talking with Monica Neves of "The Flying Neves", a Brazillian 'flying' act. They shared a really nice quiet moment and talked about growing up in the circus and so on. Near the end of that time she asked the girls where they were sitting, and told them she'd wave to them. I'll be damned if right in the middle of the trapeze act, from the high spot up in the wires and with a full spotlight on her Monica Neves turned and looked right at where we were sitting and waved to the girls. I don't think they'll ever forget that.

Caitlin is a tough 7 year old to impress. Her need for logic and order, native skepticism, and contempt for anything labeled "magic" is more like you'd expect from a 15 year old. Seeing the elephants opened a small crack in that armor. Talking with Monica personalized the show, and by the time of that wave the whole shell was broken wide open and she had the same slack jawed look of joy that any other kid her age should have at the circus.

We have a signed program from the show, but I've been unable to find information about the Flying Neves on the circus's web site. I searched on the rest of the net and it looks like they're more often associated with another circus so perhaps they're a recent addition to this group. I know the "Gold Tour" is the smallest of the three traveling circus troupes under the RB&BB banner, perhaps this is one of the treats you get when in a small town.

All I can say is what a wonderful job the "Ringling Brothers And Barnum & Bailey Circus" did here in Portland, Maine.

There are  - loading -  comments....

My own thoughts on this are...By barb on 10/20/2006 at 09:14 PM EDT
My name is Barb and I work on the Gold Unit. Just surfing around and found
your comments.
I'm so pleased the experience was such a pleasant one for you and your girls.
Monica is an extremely sweet person and it's wonderful you got to meet the
"real Monica"
We hope to see you when we return to the area.
Barb Durtche
re: Small Town - Big Circus, great timeBy jim fontaine on 04/15/2007 at 12:25 AM EDT
I just wanted to inform you that the Ringling Bros. Circus is being sued by the
ASPCA for beating their elephants. Many employees have come out against the
abuse, under-cover video has been taken, and USDA documents show abuse.
Elephants should not be beaten with bull-hooks and electricuted to learn their
tricks and be severly confined 23 hours a day. You sound like a nice caring
person and I'm sure your daughter is sweet to have a great parent like you.
Please do not patronize this circus that abuses their elephants.

There are many circuses that do not have elephant abuse such as the
elephant-free circus that also visits Portland, Maine annually called the
Moscow State Circus at the Portland Expo. It is a shame that so many caring
people patronize the circus and have no idea of the cruelty inflicted on the
elephants. Thanks.
Treatment of animals is a big topic.By Andrew Pollack on 04/15/2007 at 12:59 AM EDT
While I was there I remember them making a big deal about the humane treatment
of their animals. I have, of course, no easy and fast way to verify those
claims and no easy and fast way to verify your allegations of abuse.

I do know that just being sued for something doesn't make it so. I also know
that claiming you treat your animals well doesn't make it so either.

I'm going to leave your comment up -- it's a legitimate opinion and statement
of what you believe is true and as such it is well within the bounds of
discourse here.

One way or another, I suspect this is one bit of controversy that will go
beyond one case. You've got animal trainers who base their lives on the health
and well being of those animals, and others who will abuse them. How to tell?

About 25 years ago, a really neat man taught me how to train horses. He was
old enough then that I'd doubt he's still living. Having grown up on a ranch
in Wyoming and been around horses and cattle all his life, there was little he
didn't know about them. He was a kind, gifted, gentle man. This kind man once
told me that if you need to kick a horse in anger, get off and kick it in the
belly. When I asked why, he laughed and said "Because it still won't hurt the
horse, and it'll hurt your foot a lot less."

My point is that people who spend their lives with animals know them in a way
those of us watching do not. That makes our judgment of their methods

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