Ringling Bros. circus to end elephant acts in May

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is ending its elephant acts a year and a half early, and will retire all of its touring elephants in May.

See Full Article

The move comes amid increasing scrutiny on circus elephant acts with local governments passing "anti-circus" and "anti-elephant" ordinances in response to concerns over animal cruelty.

The circus's parent company, Feld Entertainment, told The Associated Press exclusively that all of the iconic elephants will be permanently retired to the company's 200-acre Center for Elephant Conservation in central Florida. There are 11 elephants on tour with the circus.

"They'll be joining the rest of the herd," said Alana Feld, Ringling's executive vice-president and show producer, who is also part of the family that owns Feld Entertainment. Feld owns the largest herd of Asian elephants in North America. In addition to those still touring, there are 29 elephants on the property now, and two additional animals are on breeding loans to zoos, Feld said.

It costs about $65,000 yearly to care for each elephant, she said, and the company had to build new structures to house the retiring elephants at the centre, located between Orlando and Tampa.

Last year, Feld Entertainment announced that the elephants would be phased out and eventually retired by 2018. Once the company began planning, it realized it could retire the elephants a lot sooner, Feld said.

Elephant acts have been showcased by Ringling for more than a century and have often been featured on its posters.

But because so many cities and counties have passed "anti-circus" and "anti-elephant" ordinances, it became difficult to organize tours of three travelling circuses to 115 cities each year, Feld Entertainment CEO Kenneth Feld said last year. Fighting legislation in each jurisdiction is expensive, he said.

Los Angeles and Oakland prohibited the use of bull-hooks by elephant trainers and handlers last April. The city of Asheville, North Carolina, also nixed wild or exotic animals from performing in the municipally owned, 7,600-seat U.S. Cellular Center.

Ringling's new show will begin in July without the giant pachyderms.

"We're looking at a lot of new ways of doing things," Feld said.

She said the retired elephants at the CEC will also be part of cancer research.

Cancer is much less common in elephants than in humans, even though the big animals' bodies have many more cells. That's a paradox known among scientists, and now researchers think they may have an explanation -- one they say might someday lead to new ways to protect people from cancer.

Compared with just one copy in humans, elephants' cells contain 20 copies of a major cancer-suppressing gene, two teams of scientists reported in October. The gene helps damaged cells repair themselves or self-destruct when exposed to cancer-causing substances.

The findings aren't proof that those extra p53 genes make elephants cancer-resistant, but if future research confirms it, scientists could try to develop drugs for humans that would mimic the effect.

Dr. Joshua Schiffman, a pediatric cancer specialist at the University of Utah, is one of the researchers trying to find clues in the blood samples of some of the Ringling elephants.

"There's so much to be learned from their DNA," Feld said.

Animal rights activists have long alleged that circuses have mistreated elephants.

In 2014, Feld Entertainment won $25.2 million in settlements from a number of animal-rights groups, including the Humane Society of the United States, ending a 14-year legal battle over allegations that Ringling circus employees mistreated elephants.

Elephants have been a symbol of the Ringling circus for decades. P.T. Barnum brought an Asian elephant named Jumbo to America in 1882.



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • American Music Awards reflect 2017 pop music, in which male acts dominate

    Entertainment CBC News
    The performers at the 2017 American Music Awards are evenly split between men and women, but the nominees? Not so much. In categories like artist of the year and favourite pop/rock album, where men and women compete, no female acts are in contention. Source
  • AMAs reflect year in pop music, where male acts dominated

    Entertainment CTV News
    The performers at the 2017 American Music Awards are evenly split between men and women, but the nominees? Not so much. In categories like artist of the year and favourite pop/rock album, where men and women compete, no female acts are in contention. Source
  • Ann Wedgeworth, known for 'Three's Company' role, dies at 83

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Actress Ann Wedgeworth, who gained fame on film and Broadway before taking on the role of a flirty divorcee on "Three's Company," has died at age 83. Wedgeworth died Thursday in the New York area after a long illness, her daughter Dianna Martin said. Source
  • Rep: 'Partridge Family' star David Cassidy hospitalized

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK - "Partridge Family" star David Cassidy has been hospitalized in Florida. His representative tells The Associated Press on Saturday that Cassidy is "now conscious" and "surrounded by family." The rep adds that Cassidy was in pain and taken to the hospital on Wednesday. Source
  • 'Partridge Family' star David Cassidy 'surrounded by family' in hospital: rep

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- "Partridge Family" star David Cassidy has been hospitalized in Florida. His representative tells The Associated Press on Saturday that Cassidy is "now conscious" and "surrounded by family." The rep adds that Cassidy was in pain and taken to the hospital on Wednesday. Source
  • Partridge Family star David Cassidy hospitalized

    Entertainment CBC News
    Partridge Family star David Cassidy has been hospitalized in Florida. His representative told The Associated Press on Saturday that Cassidy is "now conscious" and "surrounded by family." The rep adds that Cassidy was in pain and taken to the hospital on Wednesday. Source
  • Renowned fashion designer Azzedine Alaï?a dead at 77

    Entertainment CBC News
    Some might know his name from a quick reference by Alicia Silverstone about her party dress in the 1995 film Clueless. Others will recognize his extensive celebrity clientele. Tunisian fashion designer Azzedine Alaï?a, whose form-fitting designs earned him the title "king of cling," has died at the age of 77, according to media reports. Source
  • Harry Styles, Miguel set for Victoria's Secret China show

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Singer Harry Styles and R&B star Miguel will perform at the Victoria's Secret fashion show in Shanghai on Monday. People magazine reports that Tony winner Leslie Odom Jr. and Chinese singer Jane Zhang will also perform at the Mercedes-Benz Arena. Source
  • Woman must pay Katy Perry for interfering with convent sale

    Entertainment CBC News
    A jury has found that a businesswoman must pay $5 million US to singer Katy Perry and the archdiocese of Los Angeles, finding that the woman intentionally interfered with the sale to Perry of a hilltop property that was once a convent. Source
  • AC/DC co-founder and guitarist Malcolm Young dead at 64

    Entertainment CBC News
    Malcolm Young, who founded the Australian rock band AC/DC along with his brother Angus, has died at age 64 after suffering from dementia for several years, the band said on its Facebook page on Saturday. Malcolm Young was a songwriter, backing vocalist and rhythm guitarist for AC/DC, a hard rock and heavy metal band that was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2003. Source