When the elephants are gone, The Greatest Show on Earth will never be the same again.
Animal lovers worldwide welcomed the recent announcement of Feld Entertainment, the parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, to end elephant circuses by 2018. The company said 13 elephants will be finally off the road by then.
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is pleased, but says it is not enough. PETA said the news is “wonderful” but the elephants in captivity cannot wait for another three years as they are already suffering from arthritis and tuberculosis.
PETA US has campaigned for 35 years against Ringling’s abuses of elephants.
“If Ringling are really telling the truth about ending this horror, today will be a day to pop the champagne corks and rejoice,” PETA US said.
PETA US held several protests and has published video exposés, powerful ad campaigns and letters from supporters over the years. It documented Ringling’s treatment of animals on video, and released photos of violent training of baby elephants. Investigators and whistleblowers have repeatedly documented the extreme abuse of animals that occured everyday.
PETA insists the animals have to be freed now:
Three years is too long for a mother elephant separated from her calf. It’s too long for a baby elephant beaten with a bullhook. It’s too long for an animal who would roam up to 48 kilometres a day in the wild but who is instead kept in shackles. We need to get these elephants off the road and out of boxcars today!
CNN’s Todd Leopold wrote a piece looking at the future of circuses without elephants. He notes that elephants are usually the stars of the parade when circuses come to town, citing a university professor. The fact is animal circuses have become a sunset industry and the elephants are saying goodbye. Thirty countries around the world have already banned the use of exotic or all animals in circuses. People’s attitude towards the plight of animals in circuses has also been increasingly heard.
Many other countries have also been working on legislation to follow suit. The UK government had suggested the total ban of its wild animals in circuses by 2015. The government committee said wild animal circuses have become a sunset industry.
PETA Australia said this “is a sure indicator that we’re moving closer to an end to the abuse of animals by cruel circuses around the globe.”
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Animals Defenders International (ADI), meanwhile, wants Ringlings to extend phasing out all wild animals in traveling circuses and for other circuses in the US to follow suit.
Jan Creamer, ADI President, said ADI is pleased to hear of the announcement after decades of exposing the suffering of animals in circuses behind the scenes.
The evidence is clear that in the circumstances of a traveling show, it is not possible to provide these animals with the environment and facilities they need to maintain health and well-being. The public is increasingly educated about the needs of other species and does not like to see them suffer for a few minutes of entertainment.