Elephants, ponies, camels and clowns can only mean one thing. The circus is back in town!
This weekend, the Carden International Circus Spectacular brings the big top to the Pontchartrain Convention & Civic Center in Kenner with three rings of acrobats, elephants, daredevils and a troupe of dancing bears.
Ringmaster “Lucky” Malatsi said the circus blends traditional circus acts with modern death-defying daredevil stunts all set to the beat of the latest and hottest music. He promises jaw-dropping thrills and silly high jinks for the entire family.
“We welcome everyone under our tent,” said Malatsi, a second-generation circus performer who hails from South Africa. “I like to say that we are a melting pot of the most exciting performers from around the world. It’s all about family fun and entertainment.”
He urges everyone to come an hour before showtime for the preshow party that includes animal rides, face painting and a chance to meet the circus stars. “Our performers love to interact with the audience before the show so get here early,” he said. “Come take selfies with our animals and meet everyone.”
Circus in his blood
Malatsi said the circus life runs in his blood. He started his career when he was five working with his uncle as a street performer, and then later he learned his craft in Germany, Australia, China and Scotland before coming to America.
He said every show is a spectacle to behold with acts like the Bone Breakers from Ghana who twist each other into knots that seem humanly impossible. “They will put you on the edge of your seat, that’s too sure,” Malatsi said.
“Another favorite is Leo Garcia, the Human Cannonball from Mexico. It blows my mind when he is blasted 40 feet into the air.”
And just when you think you’ve seen it all, Malatsi says he sheds his ringmaster hat and coat to take on the heart-pounding Wheel of Death.
The Asian elephant duo Betty and Janice are the pride of the circus. They are trained and cared for by Florin Moreau, who has worked with elephants for 13 years.
‘The bond is strong’
With a life story that resembles a movie script, Moreau grew up in Romania, and at 16 was urged by a friend to join a circus in Europe.
Although he began his circus career as a teeterboard acrobat, Moreau said he was always drawn to working with animals, particularly elephants.
He eventually made his way to America following his dream of becoming an elephant trainer, and after many years as an apprentice, he stepped into the ring with the elephants. The rest is history.
“The bond between me and the elephants is very strong,” Moreau said. “You have to live your life with these magnificent creatures to earn their trust. You have to eat with them, sleep with them and let them know you are one of them.”
He spends several hours every day caring for the elephants.
“We start with the nails on their feet and work our way up to the top,” he said. Moreau loves to share watermelon with Betty and Janice, but said he is personally looking forward to getting a po-boy and a plate of boiled shrimp while he’s in town.
The Carden International Circus was here last year at the end of August, but Moreau said they had to pack up quickly and evacuate ahead of Hurricane Ida. “It was the first time we ever had to evacuate from a hurricane and it was crazy,” he said. “It’s a scary feeling you don’t forget.”
This year, “We are back, to make sure we put a smile on every face.”
The first performance is 7 pm Friday, and two performances are scheduled each day on Saturday and Sunday at 2 pm and 6 pm
Tickets can be purchased at spectacularcircus.com or at the box office one hour before show time.