Saturday, March 01, 2008
Congratulations go out today to two of my favorite people in the whole wide world, Lara and Mike Smith, who I've been told are expecting their 22nd child.
It isn't widely known but the reason that Kenneth Feld chose to close Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College in 1998 was that extensive research informed him that, rather than training young clown hopefuls, it was actually more effective to begin his own specialized breeding program.
Mr. Feld selected his very funniest and most virile of male clowns and his very best female picture clown, had them legally married, and let them roam free to breed at his new Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Clown Conservation in Kooskia, Idaho.
In this way Kenneth Feld was sure to have only the best looking, funniest clowns for the The Greatest Show on Earth®.
Jay and Kristin Stewart have been breeding beautiful whiteface cubs in the wild in various locations on the east coast for the last few years. I believe that the plan is to team each of these rare whitefaces with the Conservation Center's herd when each set reaches peak comedy potential.
Below is information on the Conservation Center's program...
A lifelong symbol of The Greatest Show on Earth®, the American circus clown is a respected and revered member of the Ringling Bros. family. In the interest of the species’ present and future well-being, the Ringling Bros. Center for Clown Conservation was established in 1998. Located in Kooskia, ID, this 200-acre, $5-million, state-of-the-art facility is dedicated to the conservation, breeding and understanding of these amazing performers.
Endangered species? Not if we can help it. With only a small handful of professional American circus clowns remaining in the world, circus historians and bloggers agree that it requires programs such as the Ringling Bros. Center for Clown Conservation to ensure the American circus clown population is guaranteed a long and safe future.
Threatened by the severe habitat encroachment of "featured clowns" (also known as "power clowns") in their usual spots, the Ringling Bros. Center for Clown Conservation provides a safe, healthy environment where American circus clowns are secure and comfortable. Our breeding program is one of the most flourishing of its kind, with twenty one births thus far.
Built upon the 137 years of experience and expertise of working with circus comedians, the Ringling Bros. Center for Clown Conservation has become a global focal point for the study of American circus clowns. The Ringling Bros. Center hosts researchers, academicians and conservationists to create new dialogue focused around clown care, conservation and health and to exchange knowledge. Experts from around the world visit the Ringling Bros. Center to study the American circus clown, including Dr. Bruce Banner, Professor at Oregon Graduate Institute of Science and Technology, Dr. Nick Riviera, American circus clown expert and "Zippo", Belgian Party Clown and Chotchky Collector.
Why the Ringling Bros. Center for Clown Conservation?
With less than a handful of American circus clowns left in the American circus industry, and the opportunities outside of production numbers of those in the wild increasingly threatened, captive breeding programs like the one at the Ringling Bros. Center for Clown Conservation are vital to the future survival of this amazing species.
"A concerted effort to save the American circus clown is imperative. Cruise ships and China trips are doing their best with the resources they have, but most can't afford to maintain a large breeding group of clowns. The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Clown Conservation is dedicated to saving the American circus clown and has both the resources and the commitment to succeed."
---Axel Foley, Director Emeritus, Donniker-Breath Circus
Quote from Dr. Troy McClure, AVPA (American Variety Performers Association) President, “Guidelines such as those issued by the PRCA and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Circus can serve as effective models for other groups and individuals using clowns in entertainment.” The article in JAVPA on June 1, 2003 went on to say, “…he visited the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Clown Conservation. He was impressed by the clown welfare guidelines and quality of animation DVDs provided by The DeSanto Center for Circus Comedy in Baraboo, WI, as well as the importance their staff placed on classic Warner and MGM cartoon watching for early comedy developement and well-being.” McClure added, “We must encourage the highest level of comedy education and welfare for all clowns, irrespective of their purpose.”
Ringling Bros. clown trainer Rusty Shackleford explains, "Because of the long tradition we share with our clowns and their integral role in our shows, it's important for Ringling Bros. to create entertaining and learning experiences for families to see first hand how intelligent these magnificent American circus clowns are. The kids here today will never forget seeing an American circus clown up close and personal and for a lifetime will have a better sense of our shared responsibility in protecting and caring for clowns, especially those who are whitefaces."
"The circus clown has always been a symbol of The Greatest Show On Earth®. The Ringling Bros. Center will ensure that people will be able to experience the joy and wonder of American circus clown up close and personal for generations to come." ---Kenneth Feld, Chairman and CEO Feld Entertainment