'Under the Big Top' Part 1: Circus heirs adapt to life without elephants
Tara Rosenblum spent one week "Under the Big Top"
with the heirs to America's oldest circus before the curtain came down one last time on an age-old favorite -- the elephants.
The Hanneford family show has been around since the 1690s. Catherine Hanneford, a 21-year-old high-wire star and eighth-generation performer, and her husband, 26-year-old clown and trapeze artist Carlos Rios, live in Sarasota, Florida, but travel with the circus 40 to 50 weeks out of the year. Together they have a 4-month-old boy, Baylian.
This is the first time that the circus has allowed cameras to follow them in their world and personal space.
"I'd like to show everybody so they don't stereotype, you know, what it's like," Rios says. "That we have showers, that we, you know, have bathrooms, that we live a normal life."
News 12 was with the couple as they prepared to perform for one last time with elephants in New York before a statewide ban. They took turns watching over their newborn backstage until the moment to bring out the elephants.
Hanneford was emotional about the final performance, saying it "isn't a circus without animals, especially our beautiful elephants."
While they won't have elephants anymore, the couple says they'll still be around as long as there are children to entertain.
The journey "Under the Big Top" continues Tuesday with the former ringmaster of the now-shuttered Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.