SAMANTHA CHRISTIAN/Daily Times
Sea lion showTrainer Stefi Slavova gives Sparky a hug for doing a trick well during the Florida-based Sea Lion Splash performance at the Jefferson County Fair.
By Steve Sharp
July 13, 2012
JEFFERSON,Wisconsin — This Jefferson County Fair show may be brief, but the entertainment value is high and the life lessons of honesty, trust and friendship are found in abundance if a person approaches with the right mindset.
On its surface, the Florida-based Sea Lion Splash performance offers whimsical fun for children of all ages. It possesses, however, an undercurrent of deeper meaning, when an attendee thinks about what is actually taking place onstage and perhaps sets aside a moment to chat with the woman who coordinates the show.
The diminutive Stefi Slavova has a voice that is a unique cross between a Southern drawl and an Eastern block accent. As she talks it quickly becomes evident how she and her sea lions get along so well together.
Slavova is a native of Bulgaria who long ago told circus moguls Ringling Bros. to shove their job. Drawing that line in the sand, Slavova struck out on her own, gained her focus and graduated from a childhood love of horses to the amazing world of sea lions. Slavova comes from four generations that spent their time caring for and presenting animals to the public.
“Marine mammals are so smart it is almost spooky,” Slavova said following one of her many shows with her three sea lions Sparky, Zoey and Alisha, at the fair this week. “They are so intelligent.”
Slavova’s Sea Lion Splash features her all-female trio doing tricks such as handstands, catching rings on their noses, shooting baskets, balancing balls and interacting with children.
Within the performance, which offers many interesting facts about sea lions, Slavova subtly weaves reminders to the audience about the value of protecting the environment, being honest in life and respecting others. With her demeanor and goals, Slavova winds up having a remarkable rapport with her marine mammals.
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