Alicia Acuna Previews Interview With Taba Maluenda in Honor of Hispanic Heritage Month
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month the Ailes Apprentice Program is sponsoring a special series celebrating inspirational people inside the Hispanic/Latino community. Tomorrow at 8:20 a.m. ET, tune into Fox & Friends for the inspirational story of the Great Taba Maluenda. Taba is a sixth generation circus performer, but unlike many of his acrobatic ancestors, he makes his living in a tiger’s den, risking his life to reach for his dreams.
I met Tabayara "Taba" Maluenda on the floor of the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas in August. He was preparing for a show that night where he is the head animal trainer for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. We were on the floor of the arena and I must admit I was a bit distracted at first, because there was a giant makeshift cage behind us. I knew soon that that cage (which was really a mini-arena made up of what looked like a very tall chain link fence) would soon be filled with tigers!
Taba is a sixth generation circus performer who was born in Chile. He came to the United States after impressing Kenneth Feld, the director for Ringling Bros. He is the first Hispanic to head animal training for the circus. While is he proud of reaching this life-long dream, his face really lights up when he talks about his family. He and his wife are raising their teenage daughter and 4-year-old son on the road. They are incredibly tight and all have some role in the show, whether it be performer or performer-in-training. Taba keeps them constantly in mind. Every night he goes into the arena, he puts his life on the line. I am not being dramatic here. He's performs with ten or more Bengal tigers. There's no room for error or lack of concentration.
Taba gave us a peek into that dangerous life when he and the staff began releasing the tigers into the cage. One by one, they followed Taba's orders and sat on their perch. With steady nerves, Taba continued talking to us as our cameras rolled and I asked questions. To me, this was crazy. It seemed these massive cats could pounce at any moment. One did get a little cranky and took a swipe at him, but Taba was fine. He told me sometimes he feels safer inside the cage than out!
That night we were invited to shoot the big show, which was awesome! Taba's energy is boundless and what makes his performance so fun for the audience is his obvious love for his craft.
We enjoyed every minute of our time with Taba and his family and hope you will check out the profile we have put together for Hispanic Heritage Month.
Tune in to Fox & Friends tomorrow at 8:20a ET for the first in our four-part series in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, hosted by Alicia Acuna.