The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus opened its animal compound Thursday to give children and their parents an up-close look at the animals and how they are cared for.

Children saw circus workers prepare the elephants for the show and watched Bengal tigers play in an enclosure.

“This is really something that children of all ages go nuts for,” said boss clown Leo Aceton. “This is a wonderful opportunity to really get a better appreciation of what the circus is and the time and sheer moola we put into animal care.”

The circus spends $6 million annually on food and veterinary care for the animals that travel by rail in specially designed train cars that are air-conditioned in the summer and heated in the winter.

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To see video of the animal open house, visit"> For ticket information and a schedule of circus performance times this weekend at the i wireless Center, visit"> or">