The parent company, of Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Feld Entertainment, have today announced to the Associated Press that they have made the decision to phase out all elephants from their shows by 2018, ending a century long tradition.
Kenneth Feld, Chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment released a statement saying:
“This is the most significant change we have made since we founded the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conversation 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.”
Feld also added, “There’s been somewhat of a mood shift among our consumers. A lot of people aren’t comfortable with us touring with our elephants.”
Ringling Bros, along with other circuses have been the focus of attention for animal rights groups for some time and the increasing pressure by activists has led to states across America to beging enforcing laws which now make it very difficult for circuses to perform as they have in the past.
The company has also fought numerous lawsuits due to claims of mistreatment towards the elephants, however, they have also been in receipt of millions of dollars in settlements due to unproven claims.
In 2014 Feld Entertainment won $25.2 million in settlements from a number of animal rights group. Kenneth Feld, when testifying spoke about the importance of the elephants in the show, “The symbol of the ‘Greatest Show on Earth’ is the elephant, and that’s what we’ve been known for throughout the world for more than a hundred years.”
This week, following news of the elimination of the elephants Feld said, “Things have changed. How does a business be successful? By adapting.”
The company’s three shows visit 115 cities throughout the year and are currently fighting legislation in each jurisdiction, which the company says is very costly and the finances could be better spent going towards the animals. It is also difficult to plan tours and reschedule due to changes in the law.
Feld spoke during an interview at the Center for Elephant Conservations, “All of the resources used to fight these things can be put towards the elephants. We’re not reacting to our critics; we’re creating the greatest resource for the preservation of the Asian elephant.”
Feld currently owns 43 elephants, 29 of which currently live at the company’s 200 acre Elephant Conservation in central Florida. The 13 elephants, that are currently part of Ringling Bros shows, will retire at the sanctuary, joining the others, making up the largest herd of elephants in North America. One elephant is on loan for breeding at the Fort Worth Zoo.
The Asian elephant is currently listed as an endangered species.
The 145 year old circus will continue to use various other animals in their acts, including lions, horses, dogs, tigers and camels.
Author: Alex Myles
Editor: Travis May