CHICAGO, Ill. — The days of elephants and tigers are over for one circus in Illinois.
The stars of Midnight Circus in the Parks are pit bulls.
TODAY reports that two dogs named Junebug and Rosie Rae are two of the main performers. They were adopted by the Jenkins family, who founded Midnight Circus.
The circus has been around since the 1990s, and it was created by Jeff Jenkins, who is a former Ringling Brothers clown, and his wife, Julie Jenkins. Their own adopted pit bull, Lola, quickly became part of the show.
She has since passed away, but Junebug and Rosie have happily taken her place in the performances. The show incorporates acrobats, aerialists and clowns as well as the dogs.
The Jenkins family hopes people will see the dogs’ performances and learn more about pit pulls, they said, and dislodge harmful and untrue stereotypes.
“Every dog is an individual,” said Jeff Jenkins.
According to the Midnight Circus website, Junebug was adopted on the south side of Chicago.
“Jeff saw something special in that little throw away Pit Bull and was determined to do all he could to nurse her back to health and give her a chance to shine,” the website states. “Along with her show stealing performances under the Midnight Circus Big Top she can regularly be seen entertaining 20,000 people at a time as part of the Chicago Bulls Entertainment Family. Junebug also spends a good deal of time educating and inspiring young people at schools and youth correctional facilities around the Chicagoland area. In the words of Junebug…Adopt don’t shop.”
Rosie Rae was adopted from the Chicago Animal Care and Control.
The website states:
“We didn’t make it past the lobby once my kids spotted (and heard) Rosie Rae. She was loud, wild, and showed all the signs of a puppy who had not been socialized, trained and probably subjected to moderate abuse. She also had huge sweet eyes and that intangible quality that says “I’m your next family member”.
Rosie followed in the footsteps of Lola and Junebug and made her performing debut last year. Rosie was honored to kick-off the PAWS Chicago 5k – Walk or Run for their lives., a spectacular event for an equally spectacular organization. Along with her Midnight Circus in the Parks duties Rosie entertains and inspires at Youth Correctional Facilities, Schools and of course Chicago Bulls Games as part of the Bulls Entertainment Family.”
The dogs’ performances also help raise money for local parks and other efforts, like hurricane relief.