Earlier this year, the parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced that it was going to phase out its touring Asian elephants and retire them to a conservation center in Florida in May 2016. This move is seen as a victory in the long fight to end the exploitation of performing elephants by circuses around the world. Animal rights advocates have long pointed to the inhumane treatment of circus elephants (and other animals) over the years.
The New York Times reports that the Circus says that they are not bowing to pressure from animal rights groups. They are claiming that they are retiring the elephants for economic reasons and will be devoting the funds required to care for traveling elephants to pediatric cancer research and conservation. Animal welfare organizations note that the public demand for performing animal acts (like those at Sea World) has been in decline.
Animal advocates call this announcement only a partial victory and would still like to see other animal acts, particularly those involving big cats, phased out as well. They also question the conditions at the facility in Florida where the retired elephants are sent, noting that while they do have outdoor space to roam, they also have been shackled in concrete structures there as well.
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