CIRCUS Q&A: Armando Loyal-Elephant Trainer
Armando Loyal is the head elephant trainer with Kelly Miller Circus. He has been in the circus business since the age of 5 and is a ninth generation circus performer.
By Todd G. Higdon
Oct. 23, 2012
Since the age of 5, Armando Loyal has been in the circus, with Kelly Miller Circus and a sister circus. His first performance was as a bareback rider.
On Monday, the circus came to Granby for two shows – 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. – at the Granby ball fields. Before the circus, the Neosho Daily News asked Loyal some questions about how he got started in the circus, along with what are his duties in the circus today.
NDN: How did you get interested in the circus?
Loyal: I am a ninth generation circus performer. My grandfather started with Kelly Miller in 1956. Kelly Miller has a sister circus, which I grew up on both back and forth. My family moved to Oklahoma where Kelly Miller is from and I was born there, raised there, grew up there.
NDN: What is your official title here at the Kelly Miller Circus?
Loyal: I am the head elephant trainer.
NDN: How many years have you been doing that?
Loyal: I have been around the elephants my whole life. My mom trained elephants before me, but I actually became in charge about 13 years ago, of these three that I have with me now.
NDN: How hard is it to train elephants?
Loyal: Patience, a lot of patience and they are very, very intelligent. So you really have to get a bond with them and then you just come long as fast as they want to come along. You teach them to follow you at first and then 'hey raise your trunk up' and you give them a treat. They feel the comfort zone with you and then you just get them to do it by command, and go on from there.
NDN: Prior to the circus and even during intermission, people had the opportunity to ride an elephant. How fun is it to ride an elephant?
Loyal: For me it is an everyday thing, but you see the faces of kids that come out and boy, it just makes you feel good to see them up there, having a good time. Even the older people get up there and just seem like kids, laughing and giggling, taking pictures. There was a lady that was 94 years old the other day. We had to help her get up the steps and get her on, but she said that was one thing that she wanted to do in life before she gets gone. She wanted to ride an elephant. And she sure did.