Elephants and the circus have a long history and deep connection to Sarasota. John Ringling moved the winter quarters of his Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus from Bridgeport, Connecticut, to Sarasota in 1927. The trapeze artists, the lion tamers, the tightrope walkers, and the elephants came.
The circus acts almost always included animals, and the elephant acts were crowd favorites. They became synonymous with the Big Top. However, over the years, animal rights activists began speaking against the use of animals for entertainment. By 2016, Ringling Brothers retired all their elephants, ending a 145-year tradition, and the circus closed in 2017.
Life brings change. Like most folks, initially, I resist. Come on, who wants to leave their comfort zone? But, as I begin to reflect on my drift through life, I know that throwing myself into discomfort and uncertainty forces me to grow. Slowly I let go of the present, inch forward with tentative ideas and eventually embrace a new path.
“I know you’re into adventure travel,” said my friend Carol. “How about a walking tour and photo shoot through the swamp in the Everglades?”
“Sure,” I replied, not considering any danger. Carol’s right, I’ve jumped into my fair share of crazy escapades, so why not a swamp walk? Besides, if former President Jimmy Carter could do this, why not me?