Everday travel and perfomance brings need for respect, understanding
For many families in America, together time is usually dinner a couple nights a week or maybe even a weekend outing to the movies. The Esqueda and Urias families have always done things a little different.
“We travel every day, work together and perform together,” explained Jodie Urias. “We are in tight quarters all of the time. There needs to be a lot of respect and understanding to operate the way we do.”
Both families are part of the Ringling Bros. Circus, which tours nationwide throughout the year. The circus promotes an atmosphere of family fun, but most people don’t understand that the family fun continues long after the tents are taken down.
Esqueda, who has been training elephants his whole life, and his family spend the entire day working with animals. They clean and feed them, then do minor training during playtime each day. Esqueda’s wife, his three daughters and his son have all spent time around the animals throughout their life.
“When you get to know the elephants, it becomes about their character,” Esqueda explained. “This is a matter of trust, between the family and the animals. We work very well together.”
Trust is also the central idea in the Urias family trade. Jodie spends performance nights in the middle of a 16-foot steel cage, surrounded by three motorcycles traveling at full speed. Her husband Erwin Urias, along with her brother-in-law Melvin and sister-in-law Olga all come within inches of her as they whiz around her doing tricks.
“My mother-in-law had the job before me,” Urias said. “And nothing happened to her. It’s really a humbling experience to have that kind of trust with your family.”
For most circus performers, training starts early. Edwin Urias started riding at 2 years of age, and his son is already practicing on his own motorcycle at age 8. Esqueda’s 11-year-old daughter already works with the 10,000 pound animals on a daily basis.
“We wake up, feed them, clean them, then walk them around a little,” Esqueda said. “We get them ready for the show, perform, then do it all over again. We spend a lot of time with them every day.”
The circus comes to Murray for three shows on Tuesday and Wednesday, then travels to Bowling Green for five shows March 25-27 and Cape Girardeau from April 15-17. For more information and a full listing of show times, visit ringling.com.
Contact Corianne Egan, a Paducah Sun staff reporter, at 270-575-8652.