After 145 years, Ringling Bros. & Barnum and Bailey Circus’ have announced they will retire elephant acts from their line-up over the next three years. From USA Today:
Calling the decision “unprecedented,” the circus’ parent company, Feld Entertainment, announced Thursday that it will phase out the performances by 2018. Members of the public have voiced concerns about how elephants and other animals are treated in circus acts. The 13 elephants that are now part of the Ringling Bros. shows will be sent to the circus’ Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida by 2018, joining over 40 others. In a statement, Kenneth Feld, Chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment said “this is the most significant change we have made since we founded the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation in 1995. When we did so, we knew we would play a critical role in saving the endangered Asian elephant for future generations, given how few Asian elephants are left in the wild . . .This decision was not easy, but it is in the best interest of our company, our elephants and our customers.” Other animals, however, will still be seen under the big top. The 145-year-old circus says that it will continue to showcase, horses, dogs, tigers and other animals in its performances.
Ingrid E. Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals responded to the news:
“For 35 years PETA has protested Ringling Bros.’ cruelty to elephants,” she said. But she added that the 2018 deadline is too far off. “Three years is too long for a mother elephant separated from her calf . … too long for an animal who roams up to 30 miles a day in the wild to be kept in shackles. If the decision is serious, then the circus needs to do it now.”