In 2009, I began my third year of employment at the car dealership with no anticipated plans of joining the zoo or circus industry. However, my fascination with elephants, their history and their management built a desire to visit as many elephant facilities as possible during my weekends and vacation time. I began the year visiting four circuses and three zoos in a two month period, viewing twenty four individual elephants. I also drafted a trip itinerary that filled nearly every weekend between May to October with plans to visit at least two zoos, circuses or a combination of both relative to which town I traveled.
On the date of my twenty first birthday, I traveled four hours to see the Kelly Miller Circus perform in Ava, Missouri, with my friend Crystal. It was there I met tiger trainer Casey Cainan. A month later, Casey offered me a job with the position of tiger groom, responsible for the daily care of his five tigers and all other tasks relating to the daily transportation and display of his tiger act. I accepted and joined the Kelly Miller Circus in late May - an ironic starting time for a worker the circus would refer to as a "First of May."
While on tour with the Kelly Miller Circus for my first year, I was able to visit a few facilities not before possible when I was based stationary in St. Louis. My previously drafted itinerary was discarded, though without regrets.
I will post my completed journey of 2009 now and document a short biography of each facility in the coming time. Following this display I will begin a story of my 2010 Elephant Tour. Finally, I will regress to my 2008 Elephant Tour, which though lighter than the others, I still viewed thirteen bulls and seven calves.
02/16 - Nashville Zoo, Nashville, TN. 0,3 Africans
03/20 - George Carden Circus International, Springfield, MO. 1,3 Asians
03/21 - George Carden Circus International, Springfield, MO. 1,3 Asians
03/22 - Dickerson Park Zoo, Springfield, MO. 1,4 Asians
03/22 - George Carden Circus International, Springfield, MO. 1,3 Asians
03/27 - Royal Hanneford Circus, St. Charles, MO. 1,4 Asians
03/28 - Royal Hanneford Circus, St. Charles, MO. 1,4 Asians
04/05 - Kelly Miller Circus, Ava, MO. 0,3 Asians.
04/06 - Kelly Miller Circus, Houston, MO. 0,3 Asians
04/08 - Kelly Miller Circus, Sullivan, MO. 0,3 Asians
04/18 - Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS. 0,2 Africans
04/19 - Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS. 0,2 Africans
04/19 - Hamid Circus, Wichita, KS. 0,3 Asians.
04/20 - Sedgwick County Zoo, Wichita, KS. 0,2 Africans
05/19 - Natural Bridge Zoo, Natural Bridge, VA. 0,1 African
06/01 - Smithsonian National Zoo, Washington, DC. 1,2 Asians
06/23 - Southwick's Zoo, Mendon, MA. 0,1 Asian
08/06 - Toledo Zoo, Toledo, OH. 1,1 Africans
09/09 - Brookfield Zoo, Chicago, IL. 0,2 Africans
09/16 - Hawthorn Corporation, Chicago, IL.
09/26 - Circus Vazquez, Chicago, IL. 0,3 Asians
11/01 - Knoxville Zoo, Knoxville, TN. 1,2 Africans
11/26 - Hadi Shrine Circus, Evansville, IN. 0,11 Asians
12/05 - Carson & Barnes Circus, Tulsa, OK. 0,5 Asians
12/21 - Endangered Ark Foundation, Hugo, OK. 3,21 Asians. 0,1 Africans
12/29 - Animal Encounters, Kaufman, TX. 0,2 Africans