Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Train
Part III, The Animal Cars and Walk to the Arena.
The Circus rolls into The Pond, in Anaheim, CA
Red Unit, 133rd Edition, July 24, 2003, Anaheim,
Story and Photographs by Carl Morrison
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Hoping to get better photographs of the elephants and horses
of the circus, I attended another 'Animal Walk' from the Ringling Bros. and
Barnum & Bailey Circus train to the performance site. I met the
animal train at Cerritos and Sunkist streets in Anaheim, California, USA,
at 12:30 pm, as I had done precisely a year ago, and put myself in a good
position to photograph the unloading of the animals. Specifically,
I wanted to watch and photograph the animals as they came off the stock
cars and down the ramps, be staged, then move out for the 6/10 mile walk
to the Anaheim Pond (Arena) where they would be housed for the 10 days of
the Circus in Anaheim.
As I arrived, the last of the equipment containers were being unloaded.
Excited parents and grandparents I talked to said, "The tigers have
already been loaded!" I concluded with a smile that I'd have to be earlier
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The Anaheim Bulletin
, local newspaper, had given the
unloading and animal walk times, so locals enjoyed
the grassy knoll and olive tree shade.
A second set of containers were unloaded.
Mondi (right) had called TrainWeb.com to
see, "From the source," when the animal
train would unload. 5-yr. old son, Brandon,
waits patiently with Mom. She is agreat railfan.
A a set of cages, I believe the cages are used
to shuttle the tigers to the performance area
in the arena.
Soon the red and white Ringling Bros. bus arrived
with red-shirted cast members who would talk with
the crowd and walk between the animals and the
crowd. Tan shirted animal handlers also arrived.
The first two cars housed the horses.
With the ramps and stock racks in place on the horse
the horses were led down the ramps and staged
for the walk.
Both horses and handlers know the routine, which
is completed at every venue. Note the padding above
the open door.
The process was slow and safe, with the horses
being more sure of their footing than the handlers.
After all, the horses are not walking on their
'hind legs' as are the humans.
The oohs and aahs of those watching the unloading signaled
the appearance of the first elephant from their 2 cars. When I told
some folks along the way that elephants were kept in the last two cars,
they doubted me saying, the doors weren't high enough. These being
intelligent animals, they had learned to duck!
The first elephant appears, and 'detrains,' in the
next 3 photos--->
I noticed that the elephants had this down pat, and
came out without halters or handlers at their sides.
I wish I had the flexibility of this elephant, notice
how long she leaves her back leg in the car as she
assends the ramp.
As soon as one stepped off the end of the ramp,
another elephant was ready in the doorway.
Now, look back at the 4 photos above and the one photo below, left, and
notice the handler in the hat has been with the first elephant every step
of the way, and appears to stay with this particular elephant all the way
to the arena. I wonder if this is the case--that each elephant has her
own personal handler? I guess when you are a star, you get attention
Every elephant knew their job and handlers were
few and far between, yet the large beasts aligned
themselves better than an elementary school class
The Ringling employee in the red shirt informed me
that the elephant on the right, was the Matriarch,
"Daisy." All ten Asian elephants are females.
Two elephants had star brands, which were applied
before Ringling Bros. rescued them.
Elephants aligned, head dresses in place, it is time
to walk to the arena.
I was a busy little photographer because now, all four
animal coaches were being unloaded simultaneously!
Photography Hint: Take at least two people when you watch the unloading
of the circus train, and equip each with a movie camera. Position
the first person across the street and between car 1 and 2 (the horse cars)
and the second between cars 3 and 4 (the elephant cars) and you should have
two good pieces of film. Then, be prepared to move out quickly if
you want to film the walk to the arena. Perhaps position a third person
between the train and the arena, at a high vantage point with good background,
with a third camera. Everyone will have a full plate of entertainment
during this hour or more of animal viewing. In my opinion, after viewing
two animal train unloadings and walks this week, you will have a hard time
finding a better place to view this process than in Anaheim. One reason
being the light traffic at the intersection where the unloading takes place.
The second reason being that no cross street traffice has to be blocked
once the walk begins from the train to the arena in Anaheim.
Horses and handlers patiently await the elephants
to take the lead in the animal walk.
André McClain, former rodeo champion, works with
the horses. I wonder if I'll see him in the ring when
Elephant parade etiquete says, 'trunks and tails.'
Hooked up and rolling.
Close scrutiny confirms gender.
Could you call this an "Elephant Train?!"
|I asked Ringling Bros. about the star brands on
the hind quarters of
two elephants (left) and their response was,
These elephants came to us over two decades ago from a source in
South East Asia where it was common custom to brand their elephants for much
reasons as cattle ranchers brand cattle here in the US. I believe we got
total of 4 elephants from this same source. One is in our breeding
in Florida, one was donated to the Moline, IL Zoo as a companion elephant,
and two are on the road with the shows. [These are the two I saw.]
Because the RBBB elephants are never mixed with other herds and
not need to be identified amongst other bulls, we do not brand our
elephants. These came to us with the brand already on."
--Peggy Williams, Education Outreach Manager, Feld Entertainment
'And they're off!' passing safely UNDER the
57 Freeway, turn right and a short ways down
Douglas Street to the arena...a total from
elephant cars to the arena of 6/10 mile.
of a great day at the Anaheim Circus Animal Unloading and Walk.
*My apologies to Daisy and the other Lady Elephants of the
circus for this angle of photograph. You see, I was only following safety
orders and staying across the street from your private car and couldn't resist
the shot. I assure you, only you know which elephant is in this picture
and I will make no snide comments about the photo. In fact, I find
this pose very becoming. Carl "Dumbo" Morrison
**Comments about this story and the photographs are welcomed
via e-mail to: Carl@TrainWeb.com