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No More Elephants in Ringling Circus

March 12th, 2015

Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus. Photo credit: HTE Kids News

The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus announced on March 5th that they will stop using elephants in their show.

This came as a surprise to many people because this circus bills itself as “The Greatest Show on Earth” and the elephants are a big part of that identity.

The elephants have been a part of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus tradition for nearly 150 years. And, having them be part of the show is big business. The Ringling Bros. circus reportedly makes $100 million a year.

So why make this huge change?

Kenneth Feld, who owns this circus, said in a statement  “As the circus evolves, we can maintain our focus on elephant conservation while allowing our business to continue to meet shifting consumer preferences.”

For many years animal rights groups such as the Humane Society and PeTA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) have put pressure on the circus to stop using animals in their shows. They argue that the elephants are treated very badly — and over the years have provided video proof of circus elephants being hit with sharp metal devices used to train them, are chained, live and travel in cramped spaces, and in some instances die from it all. They contend that the elephants perform their tricks out of fear, not because they want to … and that the elephants don’t have a choice. The animal rights advocates say animals are not ours to use for entertainment (and make money off of).

Ringling Bros. representatives maintain they treat their animals properly and that they follow the rules and regulations as best they can. They also say they’re helping the elephants by educating the public about them, and through their conservation center .

But over the years people have become more aware of the conditions these animals live in when they’re in a circus. We have come to learn how smart these majestic animals are, much smarter than we initially gave them credit for. And we have come to better understand the importance of a proper habitat for these animals. Asian elephants, the kind Ringling Bros. uses, are endangered , and that matters too.

We also have a lot of other choices for shows to go to now, including very successful circuses like Cirque du Soleil, which doesn’t use animals at all.

Animal rights groups believe that the conservation center doesn’t go far enough, but they are happy for the decision not to use the elephants in the circus anymore.

And while they think it’s about time, it will be three years before it will actually happen, in 2018. Many people are saying Ringling Bros. should do it now.

What do you think about using elephants and other animals in circuses?

Would you go to the circus if you knew the animals weren’t treated well?

Would you be just as happy to go to a circus that doesn’t use elephants?

What about the tigers and camels and other wild animals? And other places that make shows out of killer whales and dolphins? 

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11 Comments on “No More Elephants in Ringling Circus”

  • chan wing yin yanni says:

    what will happen to the ringling circus then

    • Claudia says:

      Hi. The elephants are just one of many acts in their show and they have been making changes throughout the years, including cyclists doing tricks, etc. They still have tigers in their act, as well as dogs. Their current show also includes camels.

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