Art's Latest Do My Job: Elephant Man!

Art Myers makes a clean sweep of his latest job as he takes on the job of feeding and "sanitizing" the circus elephants.

If you didn't catch the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus when it stopped in Tallahassee recently, you really did miss the Greatest Show on Earth.

I didn't miss it. In fact I was one of the circus "performers."

I performed tasks like feeding, watering and cleaning up after the most impressive act under the big top as part of my latest "Art, Do My Job!"

When you think of the circus, lots of images come to mind-- the acrobats, the lights, the clowns, the crowd.

But what would a circus be without elephants?

The Greatest Show on Earth starts with the greatest animal on earth.. an Asian elephant. This is Duchess! Hi there!"

One of my jobs today is to lay out a breakfast buffet at the Tallahassee Civic Center to keep Duchess and her cousins happy, and an elephant's not happy if it's not eating constantly.

Apples, lettuce, bananas, sliced bread and a favorite... monster carrots!

These are honking carrots, big enough for well, elephants!
Duchess, Patty and Carol can put it away!
They weigh almost 4 tons and eat 150-200 pounds of food a day!
Catherine Carden and her husband Brett own these pachyderm performers. Catherine grew up in the circus, and was just
five-years-old when her parents brought home Patty and Carol.

Says Cathy, "38 years we're together. They're very much like a dog. Very affectionate and loyal. Instead of wagging their tails, they wag their ears."

Carol hugs an elephant and it squeals with delight.

Veterinary Technician Jessica Clowers says, "I love watching Cathy with them. They get excited and make all kinds of noises. Sometimes so excited they pee!"

Clowers helps keep the circus animals healthy.
"In the wild it's not like a Disney movie. They get poached every day. Here, food is brought to 'em, they take baths every day.. they kind of have it made."

Catherine's husband Brett didn't have to run away to join the circus, after all, his dad owns the Shrine Circus.

"We have 13 elephants at our farm in Springfield, Missouri, says Brett.

"They are more important than anything to me, except my kids."

Elephants love to eat, but they love to drink water too - up to 100 gallons a day! The bucket I tried to fill with a hose never did fill up as three thirsty elephants slurped up the water.

Brett says one of the toughest parts of his job is the politics. He's referring to the animal rights demonstrations like the one outside the Civic Center during their stop in Tallahassee.

Says Brett, "they think because someone mistreats their animals, everybody mistreats their animals. You kind of get judged."

There are plenty of serious issues surrounding elephants at the circus, but there are lighter moments too.

Catherine told us what happened when one of her personal belongings was left too close to the animals.

"You put your purse down.. they eat it. That was my drivers license and wallet! And you see it a day later!"

One of my jobs today was to scoop up elephant "by-product." They can produce plenty because they really do eat all day!

Maybe some circus workers mistreat their animals. I didn't see that here, but I did witness spectators shyly stepping up to feed and touch an elephant for the first time. I wonder, could this be a unique way to actually spread an appreciation for, and a desire to preserve these rare, magnificent creatures?

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