Meet the Biggest Circus Stars

By Anna Yee

September 21, 2011 Updated Sep 22, 2011 at 7:15 PM CDT



Wednesday, Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey held an elephant brunch with Peoria's Boys and Girls Club.

The show's nine elephants dined on healthy treats, while the kids learned a little more about these gentle giants.

It's all part of Ringling's effort to care for their asian elephants, which are considered an endangered species.

About 15 people give the elephants round-the-clock care when on tour.

"Each elephant just with food, medical, and cost of living is about $60,000 to $70,000 a year," said Dunlap native Joey Frisco, senior elephant handler, "but for Field Entertainment, for Ringling Brothers, money isn't a thing for the elephants. We always give them the best food, the best everything we can."

Frisco says a portion of the show's ticket sales goes to Ringling's Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida.

But there will be more than just elephants featured at this weekend's shows.

"We mixed a little bit of old school with a little bit of new school," said Andre McClain, who plays the cowboy and is the pre-show host. "That's how we came up with Barnum 200. We've got a young lady that hangs 35 feet in the air by the strands of her hair. We have a strong man that lifts over 1200 pounds. We've got elephants. We've got tigers, llamas, ponies, donkeys, even a watusi. Do you know what a watusi is?

A watusi is a type of long-horned African cattle.

You'll have six chances to see the Barnum 200 show at the Peoria Civic Center this weekend:

Friday, Sept. 23: 7:00pm
Saturday, Sept. 24: 11:00am, 3:00pm, 7:00pm
Sunday, Sept. 25: 1:00pm, 5:00pm

For ticket information, visit