Saturday, February 14, 2009
Friday, February 13, 2009
Thursday, February 12, 2009
It is a well-recognized, worn-out fact that the letter to the editor "All circus animals are prisoners of profit, cruelty," (Nov. 14, 2008) written by J. Correro, came right out of the animal rights handbook for media use.The comments pertaining to the abuse of the bullhook have always been very easy to imply due to its awesome look, and have been misunderstood by many. The "ankus" has been used for ages by mahouts and is still the best instrument to guide and steer an elephant.Elephants that know people will understand and respond to some 30 vocal commands that are cued extensions to the animals’ natural behavior. Trust between the trainer and his animals is very important. To inflict injury to a valuable animal would not only be foolish, but dangerous and unproductive.Circus animals are governed by the USDA and are subjected to unannounced inspections by both welfare and safety authorities. With the laws and regulations regarding the care of animals, methods such as these mentioned could never be employed.
Many distorted allegations of animal abuse and deaths have been made by the activists’ groups. It is an unfortunate situation that the same attention is hardly ever devoted to the end results of the final inspections. They are dismissed due to the lack of standings. One looming scenario has been postponed nine times by the activists in the last five years, for lack of evidence.The circus has made the greatest strides in working with and understanding these animals and is one of the only places left capable and willing to support this role.The Ringling Bros.-Barnum & Bailey multi-million-dollar complex, which is devoted to scientific study for the breeding and retirement needs of elephants, has experienced more than 20 births within the last 12 years.Currently, the bulk of performing elephants are some 30 years of age. The oldest, which has lived well into its 70s, has been retired. Elephants have the same life spans and reasons for dying as humans.Out of the more than 30 million people who attended circuses last year, 75 to 80 percent came to see and enjoy the animals. The No. 1 attraction was the elephants. You can be assured that the public will be a very good judge to identify cruelty if it exists. The circus has nothing to hide.
Gordon Turner, Albany
After a modest start, magician now Ringling Bros. Ringmaster
GREENSBORO - When it comes to ringmasters, Alex Ramon is not what you'd expect.
He's not linebacker big, with hands as wide as platters and a voice uncannily deep.
Nope. That's not Alex. He'd get lost in a crowd.
He's 137 pounds and stands 5-feet-8. And he doesn't sing. He does magic. Matter of fact, he does magic well enough to make a 4-ton elephant disappear.
And he's only 23.
"I knew card tricks,'' Alex said a few hours before his Wednesday night performance at the Greensboro Coliseum. "And here I am.''
A decade ago, Alex Ramon was known as Alex Ramon Gonzalez, a second-generation Mexican American, the youngest of three from a city bordering the San Francisco Bay.
And Alex had never seen a magic show.
One day, a guy named Paul Brown, one of his dad's friends, showed Alex a few card tricks. The one trick that hooked him was when Brown crumpled a napkin into a ball and placed it into Alex's hand.
"Wiggle your fingers over it,'' Brown told him.
Alex did. The napkin floated right out of his hand.
"I thought I was dreaming,'' Alex said. "I thought I saw something impossible.''
For Christmas that year, Alex's dad bought him a 370-page book on magic. For the next 18 months, Alex stayed in his bedroom, reading his book and perfecting his sleight of hand on coins and decks of cards.
He practiced so much the backs of the cards turned his fingertips blue. But he was shy. He never showed anyone, other than a few magic tricks for his mom or dad.
Then, the question came.
"Why don't you perform for your dad's 50th birthday party?'' his mom asked.
So he did. He changed the color of scarves and made candles disappear and reappear. And he was horrible. Still, that was his start, in a community center in his hometown.
He began performing magic shows for his family's friends. His rate: $20 an hour. Big money for a teenager.
Later came magic shows at restaurants, libraries, conferences and variety shows. At 18, he won a national championship in magic in Las Vegas. Then, Alex got a call from Disney about joining a tour of young magicians.
He dropped out of community college and spent nearly three years traveling the world.
Then, in late 2007, the same producers of the Disney show approached him about their "Big Show,'' the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. They wanted him to be their star, their ringmaster.
"Man, you've been handed the keys to the largest circus in the world,'' one of his friends told him.
Yes, he has. Alex is just into, maybe, his sixth city on a two-year tour. After Wednesday night, he'll perform eight more times this week in Greensboro before heading to another city, another crowd.
He sprinkles in bits of magic as he carries out
13 illusions, wears three different outfits, downs
four half-liter bottles of
water and changes his sweat-drenched shirt four times during a two-hour show.
And all after yelling that famous phrase, "Laaaadies and gentlemen ...''
All because he knew a few card tricks?Well, not quite.
From the Greensboro News Record, February 9, 2009
Siegfried Fischbacher, left, and Roy Horn, of the illusionist team of Siegfried & Roy, play with a six-week-old white-striped tiger cub at their Las Vegas home, Thursday, June 12, 2008. The pair are welcoming five new tiger cubs to their exotic habitat on the Las Vegas Strip. Fischbacher said Thursday that working with the tigers is the perfect rehabilitation for Horn, who was critically injured when he was mauled by a 380-pound white Bengal tiger onstage in 2003. (AP Photo/Louie Traub) (AP)
Thanks Mike Naughton!