The Northlands parking lot in north Edmonton is set for quite a spectacle this weekend.
It’s called the Royal Canadian Circus SPECTAC! and it promises high-flying action full of daring stunts, magic and of course, clowns.
But,the show is missing two of its biggest stars: Marie and Shelley. The elephants are normally a big part of the performance, except in Canada. The pair were left at home in the United States.
“We’re sad they’re not here, but we carry on,” the circus’ spokesperson Cathy Sproule said.
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The circus has a permit to bring the elephants into the country but there was uncertainty around whether or not animals could return to the U.S. after their tour in Canada was over.
“Activists found a couple of other loopholes to go battle it out once again and we were just done for this year,” Sproule said. “The show must go on.”
This weekend’s shows in Edmonton capital mark the end of the travelling circus leg through Alberta.
In May, the circus held a benefit performance in Olds, Alta. and raised $45,000 for victims of the Fort McMurray wildfires.
The circus family
At the centre of the Royal Canadian Circus SPECTAC! is the Zerbini family. Ten generations of the Zerbinis have performed in the circus, beginning with The Zerbini Family Circus formed in 1763 in Paris, France.
Ambra Zerbini-Bauer is a performer in the show now and was literally born into the circus.
“We were in the middle of the show and my mom was in labour, went to the hospital, had me and then my dad, came back and announced the show the same night,” she said.
Ambra began her career at the age of three on the back of an elephant with her mother. Now at 23, she rides horses and performs acrobatics. Her dad is the ringmaster and her mother trains horses.
“It’s such an honour,” she said. “The Zerbini family is actually the first circus to cross the Sahara Desert a long, long time ago.”
Despite her heritage, growing up in the circus is not easy. Ambra says she was home schooled and nearly her entire life has been spent on the road. But she says she loves what she does and enjoys learning about each new city she stops in. Most of all, she loves to perform with her family.
“Doing what we love doing, together in the same ring.” she said.
The Royal Canadian Circus SPECTAC! runs from June 10 to June 12 in the Northlands parking lot.