Circus families keep Big Top traditions alive
Published Sunday, February 26, 2012
As a kid, Clayton Rosaire didn’t share his home with average housepets.His backyard was filled with lions and tigers.
"I’m actually the ninth generation of my family to be a animal handler and entertainer//I chose big cats because that’s what I love - that’s what I grew up around They've always been a part of my family, and I have a special bond with big cats."
The Rosaires are one of a handful of circus families in Sarasota, Florida who make sure that circus entertainment lives on.
After years of performing around the world, their act now supports a big cat sanctuary they founded to rescue exotic animals.
"Well you feel very proud of your heritage you know. We're proud of who we are, because it's a great art form."
"After spending my whole life around animals and you know really having them as part of my family since the day I was born - you can't help but fall in love with them.”
Just down the road, another circus act is performing.
A seventh generation circus entertainer, Alex performs with his dad Tino Wallenda in The Flying Wallendas.
"As I grew up, I was always watching my parents first - and then sooner or later my sisters - go up on that high-wire and it was just a natural inclination to want to get up there and be performing and spending time with my family."
The Wallenda family has been a circus act for more than 200 years. During the circus glory days they were a main attraction for The Ringling Brothers’ "Greatest Show on Earth".
The risky business of walking tight rope might be dangerous, but the Wallendas know it's a way to keep the circus tradition safe for generations to come.