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From circus to petting zoo, Wimauma family retools to survive the coronavirus

Family-run Circo Espectacular de México opened the new attraction with zebras, camels, kangaroos, ponies, llamas and goats. Plus performing dogs and pigs.

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WIMAUMA — Jenny Walker has always been a circus performer. She is an acrobat and animal trainer. She has traveled the country dozens of times and belongs to a family that has run circuses for five generations.

“My job is a labor of love,” said Walker, 38, a wife and mother of two children, 6, and 1.

Now, those skills are helping Walker survive the loss of her job and give some hope to hundreds of others also dealing with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Walker and her partner, Lance Ramos, 51, own Circo Espectacular de México, an entertainment company based in Wimauma. The circus had to cancel its shows in mid-March due to the spread of the virus.

The temporary closure required the Ramos-Walker family to reinvent themselves.

The couple decided to open the doors of their house and farm at 12611 Andrews Road as an animal attraction, open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. They called it “Jenny’s Petting Zoo.”

“It was an idea that came about because our circus jobs were completely demolished,” Walker said. “We had to do something.”

The attraction invites families to come see the animals in an open environment, feed them and enjoy some of the shows Ramos and Walker staged before the pandemic.

Families are treated to performances along with the chance to interact with the animals at a petting zoo operated by circus woman Jenny Walker of Wimauma. [ LUIS SANTANA | Times ]