No More Elephants at the Circus

Ringling ElephantRingling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey won't include elephants in their circus performances after 2018. The company announced a plan to phase out its 43 animals, some say because of pressure from consumer and animal rights groups, while others point to the increasing costs of maintaining each elephant: $65,000 per year. 

Ingrid Newkirk, president of PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said, "These are complex, intelligent animals, and this is a lousy, lousy, dirty, cruel business, and people see that. This was purely a business decision." 

 A press release on the company's website says that the elephants will join other animals at the Elephant Conservation Center

"The Feld Family, owners of Feld Entertainment, Inc., the parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey┬«, announced plans today to remove Asian elephants from their traveling circus performances. Under the plan, 13 elephants currently traveling with the three Ringling Bros. circus units will be relocated to the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant for Conservation┬« in Florida by 2018. There they will join the rest of the Ringling Bros. herd of more than 40 elephants."

Later in the release, the company mentions "changing consumer preferences": 

"'Our family has been the proud steward of the American institution that is Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, and our elephants, for 45 years. It is a legacy that we hold near and dear to our hearts, and as producers of The Greatest Show On Earth, we feel we have a responsibility to preserve the esteemed traditions that everyone expects from a Ringling Bros. performance while striving to keep the show fresh and contemporary for today's families,' said Nicole Feld and Alana Feld, Ringling Bros. producers and Executive Vice Presidents with Feld Entertainment. 'As the circus evolves, we can maintain our focus on elephant conservation while allowing our business to continue to meet shifting consumer preferences,' they added."

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Discussion Starters: 

  • How well does the company's press release explain the move? 
  • What do you think is the motivation behind the change? 
  • What can SeaWorld learn from the news?