Ringling Brothers Circus is retiring their fleet of 11 elephants that currently tour with the circus much earlier than expected. This ends the Ringling Brother’s elephant acts for good. Last year the circus announced plans to fade out the elephant acts over the next few years and end the elephants for use in the circus by 2018, but that’s changed. All their elephants will be retired by this May.
According to MSN News on January 11, when the Ringling Brothers Circus starts touring again in July, it will be without elephants. P.T. Barnum first brought Jumbo the Asian elephant to America in 1882 and since that date elephants have been associated with the circus. For the last several decades, they’ve been the headlining acts.
CNN News reports that the Ringling Brothers Circus made a statement on Monday announcing their plans for the early retirement of their elephants saying:
“In March of last year, Feld Entertainment announced all of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s touring elephants would move to the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation by 2018. Since then, the company’s dedicated staff has made the necessary plans and preparations to move the elephants to the Center for Elephant Conservation much sooner than anticipated,” reports Feld Entertainment, the parent company for the circus.
The change of retirement dates for the elephants wasn’t a move with just the elephants’ best interest at heart, it was a move because cities and states have put so many rules and regulation around elephants in the circus. All the new stipulations and bans have made it almost impossible to streamline the tours to cover the 115 cities that are stops on the Ringling Brothers Circus tour.
The increased protests from animal rights activists have cities and states orchestrating laws around the treatment of elephants and even banning them in circus acts in some locations. Los Angeles and Oakland banned the use of bull-hooks by elephant trainers and Ashville, North Carolina, banned acts by wild and exotic animals at the U.S. Cellular Center.
The Ringling Brothers Circus parent company, Feld Entertainment, owns the biggest herd of elephants in North America. They have an elephant sanctuary currently housing 29 elephants, with two of the 29 out on loan to zoos for mating purposes.
The 11 retiring elephants will join those 29 elephants and have 200 acres to roam at their new home, the Center for Elephant Conservation in central Florida. It costs approximately $65,000 a year to care for elephants, according to Alana Feld, who is Ringling’s vice president and part of the Feld family who owns the circus and the elephant reserve.
Considering the amount of money the elephants brought in for the circus over the decades, it sounds as if they are getting off cheap at $65,000 a year to care for the gentle giants. Ringling Brothers did make a beautiful home for the elephants through the years in Florida. Reports indicate that the retired elephants are well-cared for in their elephant paradise.