Mohammed Jratlou didn't have to run away to join the circus.
His grandfather had already done that, setting up a dynasty of Moroccan tumblers and acrobats that continues to this day.
And, snug in a caravan on the muddy field at Majura Park during Canberra's unusually cold winter, this family of circus folk is in the midst of the most surreal year of their lives.
Mohammed, his wife Tracey, and their two daughters Amina, 16, and Naiema, 10, are part of The Sesame Street Circus, the travelling show that put up its Big Top in way back in June.
And, it turns out, they'll be here for another couple of months; the company has just announced it will open a second circus after Sesame Street closes at the same venue.
Jurassic Creatures, featuring an animatronics exhibition and a Paw Patrol show, will be a lifeline for an entertainment company that has been hanging on a thread since the pandemic began.
Thousands of people have been to see the Sesame Street show, the first in Australia to feature characters from the beloved childhood staple.
Thousands more have driven past the tent, lit up against the night sky, and probably wondered what goes on behind the scenes of a travelling circus.
Tracey Jratlou insists the life of a circus family is, in many ways, like that of an average family, even though their home is a caravan, the kids are homeschooled and, in an ordinary year, they'd be on the road constantly.
She's the runaway of her family; she met Mohammed in a coffee shop in Shell Harbour more than 20 years ago.
She decided to throw caution to the wind, and head off with the circus to travel the country for a year. Two decades later, she's still at it, and loving it.
But Mohammed has never known a different kind of life.
"As a child in Morocco, I was brought up like my kids," he said.
"My dad taught me and my brothers, we used to perform together, we did handstands, acrobatics, a tumbling act together.
"We ended up travelling - we went to Europe, to Spain, Germany, France, England, travelling my whole life."
When Tracey decided to join the circus, she and Mohammed spent years developing and performing a dog show.
But once the kids were born, she settled down to work front-of-house - the circus house, that is - and focus on homeschooling.
"I kept my feet on the ground," she said.
The girls, on the other hand, have followed their dad right into the business.
"They were just obviously born into it, so when training was happening, they were always there and they were always engrossed and wanting to learn everything," she said.
"That's just life and how it's progressed. And now they're performing with their dad.
"If it's in your blood, it's very hard to get it out."
The company - all 41 of them - made their way to Canberra just in the nick of time, escaping as other cities locked down behind them.
Director and owner Keith Brown said opening in Canberra, with hardly any notice, was a "massive risk" that has paid off.
His entertainment company, Showtime Attractions, one of the largest children's entertainment outfits in the country, has received virtually no government assistance since standing down staff and performers.
They were out of action for more than 11 months, and Mr Brown said he had lost a huge amount of money just trying to keep everyone paid.
"I actually own a national business that employed 84 full time staff, and 8012 subcontractors," he said.
"Today, we've lost 80 per cent of the business ... In a matter of 11 months, we lost $27 million."
It's a hard loss for someone who has also lived and breathed the circus for most of his life. Unlike Mohammed Jratlou, he actually did run away to join the circus when he was just 14.
"We owned a racing business in Adelaide, and I was told I could leave school if I got a job," he said.
"The circus was in town, and I was the boy that ran away with the circus. And here I am today, and I own the circus."
- Jurassic Creatures open August 20 at Majura Park, and runs until October 4. jurassiccreatures.com.au