Hell has frozen over because Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus actually did something I agree with… they phased out elephants’ role in the circus two years early.
The original plan was to phase them out by 2018, but in January, Ringling’s parent company, Felt Entertainment, said it was moving up the timetable.
This past Sunday, the 145-year-old circus held its last show featuring elephants.
Feld Entertainment’s VP of communications, Steve Payne, told NPR’s Jackie Northam that the family that controls the company “decided that removing the elephants from the circus units and bringing them to the Center for Elephant Conservation was in the best interest of the company and, most importantly, the elephants.”
The decision came after years (and years and years) of growing public concern for the elephants’ well-being. Activists, undercover video footage, chic’s with blogs about kindness, etc. have all been pushing for this. Elephants in the wild sustain complex social relationships, but Ringling was forcing them to live in captivity and isolation.
11 elephants took part in their last shows on Sunday, in circuses at Wilkes Barre, Pa., and Providence, R.I. They will now join about 30 others at the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation, which is a 200-acre facility that says it now hosts “the largest Asian elephant herd in the Western Hemisphere.”
This is great – but I will say that I think they should all be given to a sanctuary that is not in any way affiliated with Ringling. While they may have finally made the right decision, I don’t trust their intentions and will be keeping an eye on investigative pieces covering the conservation.