Ringling Stops Exploiting Elephants, But What About All the Other Animals?

The animal rights community has been celebrating the announcement that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey have bowed down to pressure and agreed to stop using elephants in their shows.

On the surface this seems like great progress, but in reality it’s a diversionary tactic to improve their plummeting public image and prevent the barrage of animal cruelty legal claims against them.

When Will the Elephants be Freed?

Feld Entertainment, the owners of  Ringling Bros., have pledged to phase out their use of elephants by 2018, at which time they will be sent to the central Florida conservation center where they will join another 29 Feld elephants. The conservation center is currently used as a breeding center, training facility, and research center, and has been subject to many animal abuse claims already.

We will have to wait and see what future lays ahead for the retiring elephants, but given the track record of Feld and the never-ending claims of animal mistreatment both in the circus and at the conservation center, it hardly seems like the elephants will be receiving the freedom they deserve after a lifetime of exploitation.

Ringling Bros. To Replace Elephants with Other Animals

While the elephants will undoubtedly live a more peaceful life once they have been taken out of the circus shows, the move is not reducing the amount of animal suffering at all. Feld Entertainment vice president juliet Field has already announced that they’ve got “endless possibilities” when it comes to finding new animal acts, proven by the fact that they have recently added stunt camel riders to their shows.

It seems like all the money, time, and effort spent on getting Feld Entertainment to save the elephants has worked in one respect, because there will be no more elephants in their shows by 2018, but has not had any effect at all on the company’s outlook on animal exploitation and has not reduced the amount of animal suffering and exploitation that they are responsible for.

Who is it a Victory For?

Stating that we have secured a huge victory for the animals by replacing one animal act for another is misplaced and is damaging to the animal rights movement as a whole.

It gives us a false sense of achievement and progress, when in fact Feld Entertainment have simply flipped the constant bad publicity about their treatment of elephants into a great PR move. Attention has been diverted away from the fact that the company continues to exploit and humiliate animals for our personal amusement, which deserves equal attention whether it’s an elephant, tiger, horse, or camel.

The positive news being spread around about Ringling Bros. will also help to ease the conscience of those visiting the circus to enjoy the show. We’re sending out mixed messages which people can hide behind instead of having to confront the truth, which is that the use of any animal in the circus is cruel and unnecessary, and we shouldn’t be supporting this by attending shows.

Painting the Ringling Bros. announcement in such a positive light is only going to benefit the company as it will continue to profit from the public’s naivety about what is really going on here.

Animals are not ours to exploit, and there is no way to breed, confine, train, and showcase animals in a circus which does not involve cruelty and suffering. While the elephants being retired from circuses may well get to rest a little easier in their final days, we should not forget that Feld Entertainment is simply replacing them with different animals, who deserve the same protection as the elephants.

Photo Credit: hbp_pix


Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill2 years ago

What is a circus without elephants and all the other animals?

Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for the article.

JACQUI GLYDE2 years ago


Lori Hone
Lori Hone2 years ago

We made change for the elephants, we can make change for the other voiceless animals that are abused, for profit or warped amusement.

Judy M.
Judy M2 years ago

The Elephant Conservation Center where these poor ellies will be going is not a panacea for them. The only sanctuaries fit for elephants are in Tenn. and Calif.

Then there are the tigers, lions and other exotic wildlife that Feld will continue to use for our "entertainment". The article is right -- they are trying to divert our attention from all the other animal abuse. Don't let them get away with it!

Julia Cabrera-Woscek

This is sad. Very sad that PEOPLE do not understand the concept of CAPTIVITY while they understand the concept of PROFITABILITY.

Vicki Hersey
Vicki Hersey2 years ago

Once the elephants and hopefully other animals are gone, let's keep Ringlings and other animal using circuses open so we can all pay to gawp at the unintelligent, prehistoric minded, less advanced, uncivilises morons that used animals in this way. They haven't got 2 brain cells between them to work out how to earn a living that doesn't include easy disgusting treatment of the fellow creatures that we've always shared this planet with. Put leg chains on them and watch as a 'master' cracks a whip and tries to get them to perform acts that humans' aren't used to. That should cause a lot of laughing and clapping!

Sheyna P.
Past Member 2 years ago

Just keep working at it.

Mahmoud Khalil
Mahmoud Khalil2 years ago