Here’s an article about Janice Aria from Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus talking about Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon in Water For Elephants.
On the topic of circus elephants, “it’s hard to match me for enthusiasm,” said Janice Aria, Director of Animal Stewardship for Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus.
Having worked with pachyderms since the early 70’s, when Aria “ran away and joined the circus,” the 61-year-old is passionate about the floppy-eared beasts. Elephants have captured the public’s imagination from the Victorian era, when P.T. Barnum bought Jumbo from the London Zoo, to just this Spring, when an elephant named Tai embodied Rosie, one of the main characters in the movie “Water for Elephants,” starring Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon.
A college student in the seventies, Aria and her late husband left their lives in New York State and hitched their future to the circus stars. “I joined the elephant act as a clown, and my husband joined the bear act,” she said. “I thought because I had ridden horses I would know how to ride an elephant; I was wrong. I learned to ride like Robert Pattinson, by trial and error.”
Aria gained a glimpse into the filming process for “Water for Elephants” because she is longtime friends with Tai’s trainers and owners.”Robert Pattinson and Reese Witherspoon (lead characters in the film) had been so lovely to work with, and so impressed with the elephant,” she said.”You don’t know how big they are unless you are sitting behind their ears — there’s no neck there,” she said. “It’s nothing like riding a horse. You’re not the master, their master is on the ground, giving directions.”
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