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Ringling Brothers and Barnum Bailey Circus in San Diego

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Aired 4/19/09

(Photo: Ten elephants make up the circus’ stable of animals. Ana Tintocalis/KPBS News .)

The county's oldest traveling circus began a five-day run in San Diego on Wednesday. KPBS reporter Ana Tintocalis visited the I Pay One Center and has this report.

Ringling Brothers and Barnum Bailey Circus unpacked its traveling show at the San Diego arena.

Kelly Ballagh is one 12 clowns in the circus. He's wearing yellow floppy shoes, oversized overalls and a neon pink wig. He says this year there's a new clown in town.

Ballagh : Well if you ever think of the old silent comedies of the old days with Charlier Chaplan Buster Keaton Harold Lloyd. That's pretty much what Bello is. Bello is a comic where you see him acting goofy, but he does these incredible daredevil stunts.

Bello is the headlining act this year for the circus. Kelly says he's glad to share the spotlight with another clown. He says his troupe will also be doing something different. They plan to dress up as different characters to capture the crowds attention. 

Kelly : We have a construction worker clown, a grampa clown, we have a rock and roll looking clown, a sports clown.

But some things will remain the same, such as the circus' stable of exotic animals. The traveling show has six zebras, eight white tigers and ten elephants.

Carrie Coleman is in charge of all the animals. She says the elephants never need to practice before a show because, well, they have great memories.

Coleman : The saying that elephants never forget, that's actually true. You know, once they know their routine and after they've practiced it, they don't really need to practice it. They just know it.

The circus will run until Sunday.

Ana Tintocalis, KPBS News.

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