"This poster from the Ringling-Barnum "Romeo & Juliette" tour seems appropriate today. This one-sheet was used for performances at Cincinnati's Riverfront Coliseum during the spring of 1995."
Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus celebrated the birth of two Asian elephants within less than a two week period in the winter of 1992-1993. Juliette, named after Ringling owner Kenneth Feld's daughter, was born at Ringling's elephant breeding compound in Williston, Florida, on December 30, 1992. Eleven days later, Romeo was born, a namesake of the Shakespearean couple.
Both Romeo and Juliette were sired by Gary Jacobson's bull Petely. The half-siblings were the only offspring of the 26 year old bull before his death in June 1992. Juliette was born to first time mother, 14 year old Icky II. Icky II has since given birth to three more female calves. Romeo was born to first time mother, 17 year old Alana. Alana has since given birth to four more calves, all still living and the most recent born in April 2010.
The 1994-1995 seasons of the Ringling Blue Unit featured the one year old calves, originally presented by Ted Svertesky and Patricia Zerbini. In early January, however, the Ringling Brothers Circus suffered their most serious train accident in over 100 years after a derailment in Lakeland, Florida. Both Ted and a clown with the show were killed. Patty would present the calves and their mothers for the remainder of the year, but would not return for the following season.
"There were 23 elephants, the most ever carried while indoors but it was a clumsy arrangement. Jimmy Silverlake was in charge of "King Tusk", Graham Chipperfield was there with his three elephants, Patty Zerbini had her elephant "Luke" as well as presenting the two mother cows and their calves "Romeo" and "Juliet" that she and Ted had brought on the show. I handled the remaining fourteen. A large stock pen was erected in the elephant tent so the punks could roam and nurse at their leisure and all four were transported back and forth from the train in a large wagon."//Buckles Woodcock
"During the 8 day lay-off in Orlando, I had the two mother cows "Alana" and "Icky" sent home to Williston along with their stock pen which I replaced with a wooden deck for the punks to stand on. I had just enough time to get them laid down and sat up before we went out on the '95 tour. Most importantly though, we no longer needed the transport wagon since "Romeo" and "Juliet" would now march to the train with their adopted mothers "Siam" and "Calcutta" and see what the world contained beside themselves."//Buckles Woodcock
"They're very, very cute," he said. "Romeo is a very mischievous elephant. He's like a little boy should be. Juliette -- she's a little more timid, a little bit shy."//Graham Thomas Chipperfield
"They're very, very cute animals. Miniature elephants -- little tiny trunks, tiny tails. . . . They don't have to do anything. All they have to do is just walk around," he said."
18 year old Romeo now resides at the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey's Center for Elephant Conservation, the largest elephant breeding facility in North America. He sired his first calf at age nine in 2003 and his second in April 2006. Ricardo and Mable, both born to mother Shirley, were full F2 generation, implying both their parents were born in captivity. 18 year old Juliette is currently touring as one of the nine elephants with Ringling's Blue Unit.
For Additional Information
>> "2 Performers Die as Ringling Circus Train Derails," NYTimes.com, 01/14/1994
>> "He's the leader of the pachyderms," BaltimoreSun.com, 03/22/1995
>> "RBBB Blue Unit 1994 #1," Buckles Web Log, 07/08/2006
>> "Epilogue/ RBBB Blue Show 1995," Buckles Web Log, 07/08/2006
>> "Petely (Pete)" at Elephant.se
>> "Icky II" at Elephant.se
>> "Alana" at Elephant.se
>> "Juliet (Juliette)" at Elephant.se
>> "Romeo" at Elephant.se