I couldn’t decide which title to go with.
I know I’m behind a post for this past week. I have a good excuse though, I just got home from visiting Dave and Jamie at the circus in Coney Island, NY where they have been stationed for the summer. It was so much fun. This was my first time out to see the show. It was strange to see my friends in this bizarre setting, and stranger still that they fit in so well.
The show was GREAT. I have decided I like a 1-ring circus better than a 3-ring because it is so much less overwhelming an experience and I think you see much more cool stuff that way. I watched the show three times and I still hadn’t gotten enough of it by the time I left.
I worked in entertainment most of my life and have seen a lot of strange things happen in backstage areas, but nowhere else will you walk back there to find an elephant standing around casually wagging its trunk back and forth right next to a guy juggling items that were moving too fast to identify. There was a guy warming up before his act in such a way that would’ve dislocated my joints, and everyone was wearing costumes that were so bedazzled that they probably weighed more than the people wearing them. Then there’s Stevie the clown who takes spiky hair to a new level. It’s all part of a typical day in the circus.
Of particular interest to me was watching the trainers interact with their animals, not all of whom were part of the show. The care and attention they received was an all day/everyday thing with no small detail being overlooked. The animals and their enclosures were kept in pristine condition and it was heartwarming to catch a trainer talking baby talk to their animals when they thought no one was watching.
Of course, I was paying a lot of attention to how the birds were faring, and they all looked in great health and spirits. If I’m going to be honest, I was expecting to see some wear and tear on the flock (and on the Womachs), but I didn’t. They all looked and acted much like they did before they had left on tour. Jamie and Dave have done a spectacular job in raising the birds to be able to handle their lifestyle which always includes a lot of travel. The birds are well adjusted and therefore open to change and new experiences. And, man, do they look beautiful flying across the ring during the show.
So, you’re probably wondering where recall training fits into this post. Unfortunately, in order to explain, I have to throw Jamie under the bus for a second. Following the final show on the first day I arrived, Jamie was carrying the macaws, Comet and Tusa, from their backstage cages to the aviaries for the night when Comet broke loose from her grip. I remember my jaw hitting the ground as I watched Comet fly ahead of us and bank to the right and out of sight.
Jamie yelled to Dave, who was at the aviaries, that Comet was loose and he somehow managed to be on top of the aviary in the time it took us to round the corner to see Comet circling back and landing in his hand. These accidents happen to trainers too. If it weren’t for the excellent recall skills trained into these birds, Comet might be gone. I think Jamie will forgive me for bringing this out into the open in the hopes that it will serve as a lesson for others.
Hopefully she’s forgiven everyone for all the teasing she received following the incident. Got to have a sense of humor around here!
Author Patty Jourgensen specializes in avian health, behavior and nutrition and has been working with and caring for rescue birds since 1987.