Victory! Ringling Bros. Is Ending its Elephant Shows

This week we’ve been given an epic reason to celebrate with news that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will finally end its controversial elephant shows.

On Thursday, the circus’ parent company Feld Entertainment formally announced that it would be ending its elephant acts and retiring its last 13 performers to its Elephant Conservation Center in Florida by 2018.

According to the Associated Press, the company’s executive vice president Alana Feld cited a change in public opinion as part of the reason for the move, stating, “There’s been somewhat of a mood shift among our consumers…A lot of people aren’t comfortable with us touring with our elephants.”

It’s a surprising announcement, but it’s also a long overdue one. For years the circus has been the subject of numerous cruelty allegations from animal advocates and whistleblowers, exposés and lawsuits concerning the welfare of its elephant performers.

Feld Entertainment may have won a big case against animal advocacy groups alleging mistreatment, but it also paid out $270,000 in the largest civil fine ever against an animal exhibitor in 2011, following inspections that uncovered serious mistreatment of its elephants in violation of the Animal Welfare Act.

The company also acknowledge the difficulty of planning tours with a growing number of cities around the country that have passed ordinances either banning the use of bullhooks or wild animals in shows. According to Animal Defenders International, local restrictions are now in place in 49 cities/counties and 22 states.

While we’ll have to wait and see what the future holds for the Elephant Conservation Center, animal advocates and organizations that have been fighting for decades to expose cruelty to these elephants and end their exploitation are welcoming the news.

This victory is a result of all the efforts of those who continued to make their voices heard by making phone calls, writing letters, attending local protests and signing petitions-–Care2 gathered over 154,000 signatures on various petitions seeking justice for Ringling Bros. elephants.

Clearly Feld Entertainment is paying attention to our changing attitudes towards animals and the ways we treat them. Since the circus started using elephants back in the 1800s, we’ve learned more than enough to be sure that carting these highly intelligent, social animals across the country and forcing them to perform ridiculous and uncomfortable tricks for our fleeting amusement is not humane and should no longer be acceptable.

This announcement also brings us another step closer to the goal of ending the use of wild animals in entertainment, making now a perfect time to continue to push our lawmakers to protect them from exploitation. Last year, the questionable treatment of wild animals in circuses led Rep. Jim Moran to introduce federal legislation that would ban their use over concerns for their welfare and the safety risks they pose to us.

Please help keep the momentum up for elephants and other wild animals used in entertainment by signing and sharing the petition urging your rep to pass the Traveling Exotic Animal Act.

Photo credit: Laura Bittner

108 comments

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus C2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill2 years ago

What's a circus without elephants?

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Jennifer H.
Jennifer H2 years ago

A long time coming and a long way to go...

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Jim Ven
Jim V2 years ago

excellent news.

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Ben Oscarsito
Ben O2 years ago

"Ending its elephant acts by 2018"...3 more years of this insanity - DAMMIT!!!

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Ben Oscarsito
Ben O2 years ago

Elephants belong in the wild - period!

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Jan N.
Jan N2 years ago

"A lot of people aren’t comfortable with us touring with our elephants."

They're not "your" elephants, they are wild animals (regardless if you produced them through some disgusting breeding program). You don't own them, they belong to nature.

I will celebrate Ringlings in 2018 if they actually make good on this. A very small celebration, as they continue to abuse and exploit other wild animals.

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MJ J.
Past Member 2 years ago

ty

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Julia R.
Julia R2 years ago

"It should not be believed that all beings exist for the sake of the existence of man. On the contrary, all the other beings too have been intended for their own sakes and not for the sake of anything else." --Maimonides (physician and philosopher)



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Julia R.
Julia R2 years ago

Signed petition to free Nosey! I’m glad to see that these elephants are finally going to be released to a sanctuary in three years. But, why not now?! Why do these poor animals have to continue to be subjected to such cruel treatment and suffer much longer in captivity! Many of these animals have spent their entire lives in chains, in small railroad boxes, and have been the slaves of mankind for 20 years or more. Hasn’t this been too much time already spent in such miserable conditions? Some of these animals may die in three years without ever knowing what freedom is! And what about the other wild animals who don’t belong in a circus and have had to live such unnatural and cruel lives just so that people can see them jump through hoops! It’s time to stop using lions, tigers, and camels too.
It is such an injustice to take these wild animals who were meant to live their lives in the wild where they can truly be what they were intended to be. Humans have no right to turn these animals into performing machines! It is time for all these poor animals to be given their freedom too and for humans to realize that we have no right to impose such abusive and bleak lives on these poor animals!

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