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Shrine Circus to perform two shows July 16

Contributed photo The core of Vicenta Pages' (above) tiger troupe has been together for nearly five years, and each animal came under her tutelage as a 14 or 15 month old cub. Their tricks are varied and numerous, from rolling over and laying down, to jumping hurdles and giving "high fives."

A summer family fun three-ring production including a tiger troupe, elephants and more, can only mean the circus is in town.

The Shrine Circus is coming to Alexandria Friday, July 16. There will be two shows held at the Douglas County Fairgrounds that Friday at 2:30 and 7 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased for children 12 and younger for $5 and adult tickets are $10. Tickets to this exciting event may be purchased at Pete's County Market, Elden's Food Fair or at the fairgrounds.

Circus attendees can also register to win one of four youth bicycles.

The circus is being brought to Alexandria through the George Carden Circus International that is owned and produced by George Carden.

This circus travels more than 40,000 miles each year in the United States and Canada. During the 42-week season, the circus has two units on the road.

George Carden is the fifth generation in show business and has acquired all of his knowledge of the operation thoughout his life. His accomplishments in circus lighting, special effects and production are amazing. All of his hard work has made him one of the largest producers of a circus in North America.

George's father, Larry Carden, owned a circus where George learned all the details needed to run a circus firsthand. George Carden then went out with his own circus in 1981 and later purchased his father's circus. He entwined the two circuses into one extremely successful business. To accommodate all of his attractions, three units were created.

Carden has also worked a cat act, presented camels and elephants and has managed many aspects of the circus.

Carden's sons are also a part of the circus; working with George's other pride and joy, the elephants.

The 8,000-pound Asian elephants are very intelligent and learn quickly. However, the elephants must go through a muscle-building program before they are able to do the tricks safely. An elephant could learn how to stand on its hind legs in one week, but the muscle building required for the trick could take one to two months.

All of the elephants were born in the wild and then trained since they were about 3 years old. Some elephants can live up to 80 years in captivity. This is much higher than the 45-50 year lifespan in the wild. Carden currently owns 10 elephants. Vicenta Pages is the leader of the tiger troupe. She has spent about five years cleaning their cages, feeding and watering them, exercising and working with them to showcase each of the tiger's talents. Each animal came to her as a 14 or 15-month-old cub.

Their tricks vary from rolling over and laying down to jumping hurdles and giving "high fives." Each tiger's stunts are based on their individual personalities that Pages has observed closely during the tigers' playtime.

The circus operation is housed at Carden's winter quarters, located between Springfield and Willard, Missouri. The 20-acre farm has large shops for building, painting and maintaining equipment. It also houses the many performing animals owned by the circus. The circus also owns and maintains 27 pieces of rolling equipment, including tractors, trucks and trailers.

George Carden Circus International offers a beautiful three-ring production that is fascinating to children of all ages. This circus offers the finest in family entertainment.