Although his cats have all been born on the circus and have never lived in the wild , Lacey is worried that there could sometime soon come a day when the only big cats left in existence are those which live among human beings. Opinions and factual research conclusions do vary and it is true; one cannot convince people to change their minds — no matter how much evidence is presented on either side.
But, arguably, teaching and caring for innately wild animals in captivity is not much different from training range-roaming horses to be ridden or raced. Some scientists say that animal taming is part of the overall evolutionary process such as bringing house cats indoors to live on canned or dry food instead of outside where they would more naturally hunt rabbits and mice.
One thing to note, says Alexander Lacey, is that lions and tigers and leopards can be trained but not tamed. Are animals in captive environments actually happy? As intelligent as creatures are, gauging their emotions on a human scale is not all that easy to do — unless you are Dr. The big cats are well-cared for, healthy and loved. Very much loved. Their unique personalities are incredible.
To train these beautiful animals is the most rewarding thing and no matter where I am, I hope to do so for many years to come. I love what I do and I love my cats even more. Alexander Lacey returned to Europe in the fall of He brought his big cat show to circuses in France and Germany. Currently, Lacey is entertaining audiences with Zirkus Charles Knie. In addition to assisting Alex with the big cats, Katie Azzario-Lacey sings in the show. The Laceys recently welcomed their first child to the world a boy. Alex also has a teenage daughter. And, as the late, great Jack Ryan Ringling Bros.
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As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, owlcation. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so. Teri Silver more. Circus Life Every morning, Alexander Lacey brings his majestic felines into a practice ring — transporting six African lions, seven Bengal tigers and one African leopard may seem like a daunting task, but for Lacey, it is just a part of normal, everyday life.
The Lacey Menagerie As of this writing, the entire Lacey clan has bred 11 generations of lions and nine generations of tigers. When breeding, the family is careful to keep bloodlines separate so that all animals remain true to their lineage. The menagerie is made up of a very diverse gene pool — eight bloodlines of lions and five bloodlines of tigers. Alexander Lacey employs several full-time workers to help him care for his lions, tigers and leopard.
Currently, Katie guides the big cats through the tunnel into the circus ring.
During the show, she watches them for aggressive behavior. A veterinarian is always on call. The felines are usually fed 6 or 7 hours before a performance so that the food is well-digested. Each big cat eats about 8 to 16 pounds of high-quality beef or chicken daily; their diets alternate with days of the week. When on tour, the food is from local resources. The animals receive water throughout the day. The cats are served warm milk and liver oil at night. All felines have their own characteristics, behaviors, body types and phrases easily recognizable by their trainer.
When he is within earshot, Alexander Lacey knows which cats are talking by the sounds of their rumbles and growls. Similar to housecats, lions and tigers hold their ears and tails in different positions to communicate with each other and their trainer. Training begins at around 8 months old.
Training is based on repetition, reward and patience. Alexander Lacey communicates with the cats in English and German.
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When performing, the big cats display their various talents by doing the kinds of things they like and are good at; some love to run and jump but others are more passive. All the cats are given the opportunity to reproduce. In the performance, cubs work alongside their parents and slowly take over the routine.
How long does it take to train a lion or tiger? So, then, do the animals show desire for personal space?
The Guiders Through a process of repetition and reward, Lacey utilizes guiders thin rods to teach the animals a type of sign language so that they can interact with him. Then, when he walks backwards, the tiger will walk forward. Stop — the trainer holds guiders straight up.
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Sit — a soft touch on the butt. Lay — Alex places the guiders angled point down in front of him. Sit up — a slight rub on both ears.
Performance Time Currently, Alexander Lacey has 13 lions and tigers and one leopard in his menagerie but not all of them participate in each show. Well, then, come here. Each female lion and tiger has her own special relationship with "Top Cat" Alexander Lacey. Circus Days with Ringling Bros. The Big Cat performance is … Exciting! Show Ending p. And a kangaroo or two … Katie Azzario-Lacey comes from long line of circus artists, clowns and acrobats; for many years she performed a hand-balancing act in Europe with her sister, Quincy The Azzario Sisters.
Conservation and Education Keeping wild cats and other animals in captive environments brings about various opinions, acknowledges Alexander Lacey.
Continuing Efforts Although the circus is now closed, conservationists at Feld Entertainment the company that owns Ringling Bros. Opinion vs. Fact: Is there a Difference? Hello, Europe! Questions must be on-topic, written with proper grammar usage, and understandable to a wide audience. Sign In Join. Connect with us.
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