Circus performers swim with the dolphins - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Circus performers swim with the dolphins

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GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

Performers with the Cole Brothers Circus are used to sharing the spotlight with animals. But Tuesday they got a chance to do something out of the ordinary, even for them.

"It was amazing. We just got out of the dolphin interaction program," said circus show girl Courtney Heidenreich. "We got to pet them. We got to see their different behavior and feed them fish and Jello. It was fantastic."

Heidenreich was just one of the performers who stopped by the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport for a chance to play with Bo and Buster.

"They came today to meet the dolphins. You know they're circus performers, meet our dolphins, our performers," said IMMS Assistant Director of Research Delphine Shannon.

Dr. Shannon said IMMS has a long standing relationship with the Cole Brothers Circus, and every year they look forward to seeing how the cast members react to the animals. Before the performers played with the dolphins, they toured the center, fed the birds, played with the snakes, and saw the turtles.

But as much funs as those activities were, they said the big event was hanging out with the dolphins.

"Most of the animals I'm around regularly are on land. So I don't know as much about the water side of things. It was really fantastic," said Heidenreich.

The Dolphin Interaction program and tours of the IMMS facility aren't just for special visitors. Both are available to the public by reservation. Visit http://www.imms.org for more information.

Copyright 2012 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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