Petrov worked closely with renowned Ringling
Bros.®animal trainer, Gunther Gebel-Williams and his
son Mark Oliver Gebel. It was Gunther
who awarded Alex the right to wear the black suit, an honor presented to those
whom the trainers trusted greatly.
for nearly 50 animals and their living environment during the two year tour, Alex
arrives at each arena early and maps out the animal compound and makes sure
there is water, a dry space for hay, food delivery and storage, adequate
entrance and exit paths for animals and equipment, and appropriate fencing to
keep the animals safe.
has performed many thrilling and death-defying acts and demonstrates his
balancing skills on two wheels in a dueling motorcycle high-wire act. He will perform stunts including a handstand
and spinning 360º using as specially designed chopper that speeds up to 50 mph
across a high-wire that is 5/8ths of an inch wide.
Animal Care Superintendent and
has the best of
both worlds when it comes to Ringling
Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents DRAGONS. He is one of two
daredevil riders who roar throught the arena sky on specially designed
high-wires suspended 30-feet over the audience with a beautiful aerialist
precariously poised from his motorcycle. As if that weren’t enough, Alex also oversees
and works with the amazing animal menagerie that travel with The Greatest Show On Earth
Alex grew up in a family of
circus veterans, both of his parents immigrated to the U.S. to work as acrobats
and aerialists for Ringling Bros. and
Barnum & Bailey
spent his early years learning, mastering, and performing various acts,
including the Teeterboard and Russian swing.
While on tour with his family,
Alex became good friends with Mark Oliver Gebel, son of renowned Ringling Bros. animal trainer, Gunther
Gebel-Williams. The two boys would hang around together and watch Mark’s
father, the esteemed trainer and handler and his many species of animals
practice their acts. Attending rehearsals became a daily practice as Gunther
taught his son his craft, and little did Alex know that he would later work
alongside both Mark and his father. Eventually Alex was awarded the right to
wear the black suit by Gunther, an honor presented to those whom the trainers
trusted greatly. It was an honor he will never forget. “This was a moment of
big value in my life.”
As Animal Care Superintendent, Alex
is responsible for nearly 50 animals and their living environment and it is a
job he takes personally. “I am always looking for new ways to engage and
stimulate the animals, both mentally and physically,” he says. Alex learns
about each animal by watching its behavior in various situations – at play,
while feeding, at rest, and interacting with other animals and people. Alex uses voice, touch, food, or a
combination of all three, and tailors his approach to best suit their individual
and unique personalities. While the training never ends, according to Alex, a
bond of respect grows between the two.
Alex’s day to day
responsibilities includes making sure that everything runs safely and smoothly
for all involved. Alex arrives at each arena early and maps out the animal
compound and makes sure there is water, a dry space for hay, food delivery and
storage, adequate entrance and exit paths for animals and equipment, and
appropriate fencing to keep the animals safe.
Alex works hand-in-hand with more than 20 people that he supervises, show
management, veterinary crew, and others to ensure the Ringling Bros. animals receive the highest-quality care in every
the animals of the show are Alex’s top priority, he also enjoys the thrill and
rush that he experiences as a performer.
Alex has performed many thrilling and death-defying acts including the
upside down act where he and his wife Vicki were suspended invertedly on a
platform and performed wacky, every day tasks like drinking water and playing
badmitton. One of his favorite acts has been an incline perch act where he walked
on a wire the width of a human thumb, while his partner performed ontop of a
contraption he balanced on his head. For
the 142nd Edition, Ringling Bros. and
Barnum & Bailey Presents DRAGONS
Alex will demonstrate his balancing skills on two wheels in a dueling motorcycle
In this high-flying and soaring
act, Alex will compete with Andrey Medeiros as the two riders and aerialists
concurrently performing highwire stunts including a handstand and spinning 360º
along using a specially designed chopper that speeds up to 50 mph across a
whigh-wire that is 5/8ths of an inch wide.
Alex’s life is in the circus and
admits that if he wasn’t performing or working with animals he would be
miserable. “Performing is in my
blood. I’ve only been away from the circus
for one year and I couldn’t wait to get back.
It was a nice experience trying something new but when I’m here at Ringling Bros. I feel more useful,” he
Unlike most Ringling Bros.
performers who travel on the Ringling
Bros. train, Alex travels by recreational vehicle so he is closer to his
animal family as well as his wife, Vicki, and their daughter Sophia and son