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Circus World Executive Director Scott O’Donnell said he got a strange look when he purchased a dozen watermelons at Wal-Mart on Tuesday morning.

He said the cashier asked if he was throwing a party.

And he is, albeit not the kind of party the cashier might expect.

Circus World is throwing a watermelon party at 2:45 p.m. Saturday and Sunday during which visitors can watch two Asian elephants, Bunny and Libby, devour and destroy whole watermelons.

Although they both eat about 300 pounds of food every day, trainer Habib Omar said Bunny and Libby enjoy the sweet watermelon as a treat.

“They are eating machines,” he said. “Eventually they will get tired, and they will play with (the watermelons), but you have to bring a lot, and I’m talking about a lot.”

Habib Omar

Elephant trainer Habib Omar feeds a watermelon to Libby, an 8,200 pound Asian elephant, at Circus World on Tuesday. Circus World will host a watermelon party for its elephants and tigers on Saturday and Sunday.

Despite their shared love of watermelons, Omar said the girls have different personalities. Bunny is more affectionate and tends to stay close by his side, but Libby is more protective and enjoys her independence.

In addition to the elephants, Circus World’s tigers will also participate in the watermelon festivities.

Circus World is the temporary home of eight tigers that each weigh over 400 pounds. Trainer Ryan Easley said the watermelon party is a great way to keep the big cats stimulated.

“We give them logs and balls that they like to play with and claw up,” he said. “Watermelons and cardboard boxes are good – things they like to destroy. Tigers are very destructive.”

Tiger II

A 400-pound tiger enjoys a watermelon at Circus World on Tuesday. Circus World will host a watermelon party for its elephants and tigers on Saturday and Sunday.

Tigers sometimes sleep 18 to 20 hours a day because of their high protein diets, but Easley said visitors can expect to see the Circus World tigers more active than other big cats they might see at a zoo.

“They’ll get to really experience these animals in person with all of their senses, instead of just seeing them on the Internet,” Easley said. “Because no one really remembers what they saw on the Internet yesterday.”

O’Donnell expects to go through between 60 and 80 watermelons this weekend just for the animals. Visitors can also munch on watermelon slices free of charge.

Libby

Libby the elephant smushes a watermelon at Circus World on Tuesday. Circus World will host a watermelon party for its elephants and tigers on Saturday and Sunday.

O’Donnell said the watermelon party is a great time for people to explore and bond with the animals.

“Seeing the shock and awe from people when the elephants pick up the entire watermelon and shove it in their mouth is incredible,” O’Donnell said. “There are not many living beings that can accomplish that.”

Tiger

A 400-pound tiger peels a watermelon at Circus World on Tuesday. Circus World will host a watermelon party for its elephants and tigers on Saturday and Sunday.

(6) comments

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Amber Giddings

I encourage everyone who is concerned about the care of animals in a circus environment to visit Circus World Museum. I work at Circus World. I am there every day. I get there before the museum is open and I am there after it closes. My front view every day this summer has been looking at the tiger enclosure. I observe their behavior during their show. And I also observe their behavior during their down time before, between and after the shows. I see his show as often as I can because I learn something new during each show. I believe in the motto "Encounter to Educate". Ryan Holder is the ShowMeTigers presenter and handler. I talk to him almost every day. And I ask him questions every day pertaining to the care he provides. And the most current news of the day that pertains to private ownership of animals. He is a very approachable person. I was shocked to see the allegations that he hurts his tigers, doesn't provide care for them and his tigers are deprived. He does not beat his tigers. He does not deprive his animals. His animals are his top priority. For those who are interested in a conversation about animal welfare, I encourage to reach out to him, visit him and talk with him. I support Ryan and I support his efforts to showcase his tigers in a way that creates a discussion about the wild that is being depleted by humans, about the alarming low number of tigers left in the wild and private ownership of exotic animals. Encounter to Educate. The facts will surprise you.

Ryan Easley

These nasty and slanderous comments are certainly not representative about the care our tigers receive while at Circus World this summer and our regular traveling schedule. Through personal encounters in our presentations at Circus World and our ShowMe Tigers Facebook page, we offer the public a "behind the scenes" look into the daily lives, care and training of our animals. All we ask of our guests is rather than simply allowing carefully crafted animal liberation marketing pieces to tell you how to feel, visit and make your own connections, and experience our tigers for yourself. Make your own opinions based on your own observations.

Kim Marie

If you care about animals like I do, never buy a ticket to any act that has animals in it. Animals held in captivity are denied the life nature intended for them and forced to perform tricks out of fear of physical punishment. It's simply not right.

Lucy Post

A watermelon may provide a momentary diversion for these animals, but the rest of their lives consist of deprivation, captivity, beatings, and nothing remotely close to natural. If you care about animals, please don't pay to keep them enslaved by buying tickets to spectacles like this.

Jennofur OConnor

I understand this is the Baraboo newspaper, but presenting these cruel animal acts as a promotion is disgraceful.

Ryan Easley (aka Holder), has an appalling track record. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, the agency that enforces federal animal protection laws, has cited Holder for failing to contact a veterinarian to examine or treat two tigers with laceration wounds and for cramming five tigers into three 5 x 8 cages (barely) suitable for one tiger each.

Elephants don't need watermelons, they need their families and their freedom.

People who care about animals will continue to turn their backs on these kinds of cruel spectacles.

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