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Ringling elephants feast on buffet of Michigan Apples

Contact: Denise Donohue
(800) 456-2753

(Grand Rapids, Mich.) –  It was truly a one-of-a-kind Michigan Apple taste-test when 10 elephants from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus marched through downtown to munch on a buffet of Ginger Golds, McIntosh and Gala apples in front of Van Andel Arena late last week.

But there was no question about it, when it came to determining which apple variety was the winner.  The famous pachyderms preferred the sweet and spicy Ginger Golds.  Much to the dismay of Ringling animal handler Ryan Henning who said the elephants usually eat red apples.

Hundreds of children and families gathered in front of the arena to watch as the elephants lined up in front of a 40-foot apple buffet.  The elephants each consumed 100 Michigan apples in less than 10 minutes. 

Denise Donohue, executive director of the Michigan Apple Committee, said she was pleased that Ringling officials invited the organization to participate in the festivities.

“They told us that apples are like candy to the elephants,” said Donohue.  “So we didn't waste any time agreeing to participate in this fun, exciting event.  It was a fantastic way to celebrate the fall apple season in conjunction with the circus coming to town.  In fact, the heart of Michigan Apple country is just a few miles north of here so it was also an ideal location.” 

Ringling clowns juggled apples while Michigan Apple Queen Laura Dietrich talked to the crowd and answered questions about the industry prior to the elephants' arrival.  Lil Mac, the Michigan Apple mascot, also made an appearance shaking hands with the audience and attracting attention of passers-by.

The event took place on Thursday, Sept. 18, the opening day of the circus in Grand Rapids.