Under the Big Top: the Circus in America

Gallery photo of The Circus in America

Wild Animals

A huge menagerie of exotic and domesticated animals can be found at the circus. Which is your favorite? The elephants? The mighty ages? The big cats? Or how about giraffes, bears, hippos, llamas, goats, seals, horses or zebras?

Fun Facts


  • Elephants average 8.000-10,000 pounds, stand 9' tall at the shoulder, and can live from 60 to 70 years. An adult elephant can run up to 25 miles per hour!
  • During play, young elephants perform headstands, climb onto fellow playmates and roll into the mud! They like gum drops, enjoy being tickled, and flap their ears to show pleasure. Elephants have sharp memories, can understand 40-50 words, and greet one another with vocalizations and "trunk hugs."
  • An elephant's trunk has thousands of muscles, used for smell, touch, lifting, and sucking water (to blow into its mouth for a drink). Asian elephants have one finger-like projection in its trunk for grasping objects as flat and tiny as a dime.
Fun Facts
  • This order of Primates includes monkeys, lemurs, marmosets, lesser apes (gibbons and siamangs), great apes (gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans), and HUMANS.
  • Gorillas average 400 pounds, average 5'6" tall, and live 35-50 years. Shy creatures that communicate by using gestures and over 25 vocalizations, their level of intelligence nearly equals that of man. Like man's unique fingerprints, gorillas have a unique nose print! A gorilla's closest genetic relative is the chimpanzee.
  • A chimpanzee's closest relative genetically is the human, and they possess similar DNA. Chimps average 90-115 pounds, are 3-4' tall, and live 35-60 years. Extremely intelligent, chimps learn complicated tasks and communicate through a complex system of vocalizations and gestures. The original trapeze artists, chimps can walk upright but love to hang out in tress where they enjoy swinging from limb to limb!
Fun Facts
  • Cats include 36 species that range in size from the huge Siberian tiger to the smallest house cat.
  • Tigers average 500 pounds, stand 40" high at the shoulder, are 7-9" long and live 15-20 years. A tiger's vision is six times greater than a human's. Unique to each tiger is its pattern of stripes.
  • Lions average 400 pounds, stand 36" high at the shoulder, are 6-8' long and live 15-20 years. Lions can rotate their ears from side to side to catch sound from any direction. Surprisingly poor hunters individually, the muscular females hunt in packs to ambush herds of wildebeest or gazelle while the males rest ... sleeping up to 20 hours per day!
  • Other big cats include leopards, cheetahs, jaguars, pumas, panthers and mountain lions. Leopards each have a unique pattern of spots. Even black leopards (commonly called panthers) have spots! Cheetahs are the fastest of the felines, reaching 60 miles per hour.
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