Elephants Absolutely Do Not Belong In The Circus (Good Move, Ringling Bros.)

by Veronica Santos

Good news, circus fans: Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus are planning to eliminate acts featuring elephants by 2018. This particular circus has been using animal acts since P.T Barnum began bringing them onto the show 145 years ago. Elephants have been a fan favorite since the debut of Jumbo, an Asian elephant, in 1882.

Animal rights groups have been challenging the way we view animal-centric entertainment for years now. They claim the animals’ treatment and living conditions in the circus are not humane. With more transparency surrounding the issues, more people feel mixed emotions towards viewing animals as entertainment.

According to The Dodo, there are several reasons why elephants shouldn’t be in the circus: they live in horrible conditions, chained and confined in stalls and train trucks; they are usually separated from their families when they’re babies, creating a lot of stress for both mother and calf; and the physical demands of performing takes a toll on their bodies, causing joints and limbs to hurt (though they are forced to perform regardless). Elephants are a highly intelligent and emotional species (for non-believers the video below is proof).

Though dubbed “gentle giants,” elephants can become violent if provoked.  In 2011, NBC News had a story where 4 male elephants had been separated from their herd after villagers in Mysore, India threw rocks at them. The elephants then charged down the street and killed a man in the process. Humans need to treat these animals as the intelligent beings they are, not as sources of entertainment.

This knowledge of animal cruelty is, unfortunately, not the circus’ motivation for ceasing elephant acts. As many cities and counties have already established anti-circus and anit-elephant orders, creating a touring itinerary is hard. As CEO of Ringling Bros. and Branum and Bailey Kevin Feld said to the Associated Press, “We are not reacting to our critics; we’re creating the greatest resource for the preservation of the Asian elephant.”

The company owns a 200-acre Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida and are planning to retire and relocate the remaining 13 traveling elephants there by 2018.  However, they are planning on keeping on the other animal acts for their audiences to see such as lions, tigers (no bears) and camels. We’re hoping that more cities ban entertainment acts with animals so the circus follows suit and eliminates animal acts altogether.

We’ll leave you with this adorable video of elephants playing. 


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