• EVENT: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey presents “Dragon”
• LOCATION: Stockton Arena, 248 W. Fremont St.
• DATES: Thursday, Sept. 13, through Sunday, Sept. 16.
• COST: $15 (upper bowl), $18 (upper seating), $23 (lower level), $38 (VIP), $60 (front row), $90 (circus celebrity).
• INFORMATION: Call 209-373-1400 or log on to www.ringling.com
• FOR TICKETS: Tickets available for purchase online at Ticketmaster.com, Ticketmaster retail locations, arena Box Offices or charge by phone at 800-745-3000
STOCKTON — Alexander Lacey is the big cat among the big cats.
In Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey presents “Dragons” – a once in a millennium event recognizing the Year of the Dragon – he and his assembly of lions and tigers are part of the Greatest Show on Earth.
“I’ve been training the big cats for the past 18 years,” Lacey said earlier this week from Sacramento.
They’ll be performing Thursday (Sept. 13) through Sunday (Sept. 16) at the Stockton Arena.
His act consists of 16 rather large felines including more than 11 generations of lions and nine generations of tigers. The Lacey family, in fact, continues to develop methods to maintain the integrity of the various bloodlines within the cats’ lineages.
Big cats and the circus were always in Alexander Lacey’s blood.
He’s from Nottingham, England, and was raised around big cat husbandry. His father, Martin, was a zoo and circus director while his mother, Susan, traveled the world presenting a mixed act of tigers and leopards.
At age 11, he left home to attend school in Lincolnshire. “I couldn’t wait to come back home to the circus and help with the animals, especially the big cats,” Lacey said.
After graduation, he began his professional career. First, Lacey worked at his father’s circus, building big cat presentations with tigers and lions. At 21, he took his act on the road, spending his entire life around the regal animals, thus, developing a true passion and love for them.
He also met Elaine, a trapeze artist, while presenting his cats in Ireland. Today, Elaine and their daughter are part of Lacey’s cat act.
For the past several years, he and his family have toured throughout Europe, in particular, France, Italy, the Netherland, Spain and Belgium. Along the way, they’ve won numerous honors, including “Best of the Best” at the Circus Festival in Monte Carlo, the Silver Crown award in Monaco, and the Chapiteau de Crystal Award in France.
Taking his big cat act to America was a dream that came true for Lacey.
They’ve been touring with the Greatest Show on Earth in the U.S. for the past few months, starting on the East Coast and recently in California.
Along the way, Lacey and his family have taken in the sights, visiting Hersheypark (Hershey, Penn.), the Statue of Liberty (New York), Disneyland (Anaheim) and Alcatraz (San Francisco), to name a few.
“It was a big decision to leave Europe,” he said. “We were concerned about the conditions (for the big cats) but everything has been great.”
His lions and tigers were used to performing before an intimate crowd of 2,000 in Europe. Not so in the states.
“These arenas with 15,000 to 16,000 (people) can be quite intimidating (for the big cats),” Lacey said.
He added that his lions and tigers are potentially more dangerous than the ones in the wild. “They see people every day so they’re not easily scared off,” said Lacey, who communicates with his animals in English and German.
He keeps close tabs on each of his cats, from their unique behaviors, characteristics, body type and even sounds. It all becomes part of the act.
Other performers in the circus include:
• The Shaolin Warriors from China. They’ll execute intense and fearless Kung Fu dating back to the 5th Century.
• The Riders of the Wind. These deftly balancing Cossack riders will charge into the ring on their thoroughbred horses, displaying a combination of strength and dexterity.
• The Globe of Steel featuring the Torres family riding specialized eight motorcycles inside a 16-foot steel globe while traveling at speeds up to 65 miles per hour.
• The dazzling aerial display of Viktoriya Medeiros and Widney Neves, the Hair Hang Heroines, ascending 35-feet upward on just strands of their long dark hair.
• The Flying Caceros and their double decker high trapeze designed specifically for Ringling Bros.
• An animal menagerie consisting of Asian elephants, horses, mini-donkeys, and goats.
Alexander Lacey urges anyone attending the Greatest Show on Earth to come early and check out the all access pre-show.
“It’s the only time (one hour before show time) you can step on the circus floor and get close to the performers and animals,” he said.
— VINCE REMBULAT
209 staff reporter