No more elephants in the Ringling Brothers' circuses.

Friday, March 6, 2015 - 8:45am


What Happened?
Ringling Brothers is a company that runs circuses. (Ringling Brothers is owned by Feld Entertainment.)
Show circus tent with "Ringling Brothers" on it.
Elephants perform in the circuses.
Show several elephants performing in a circus. Try to show "Ringling Brothers" logo or text somehwere in the picture.
For a long time, they have been a very important part of the circuses.
Show old-timey Ringling Brothers circus with elephants.
On Thursday, Ringling Brothers announced that they will stop using elephants in the circuses.
Not sure how best to indicate this. Maybe show a circus with the elephants starting to walk away.
They will phase out elephants. Each year, they will use elephants less.
Not sure how best to indicate this. Maybe same picture but the elphants have mostly left the panel. Do NOT show them looking back wistfully!
By 2018, there will be no more elephants in their circuses.
Not sure how best to indicate this. Maybe same picture but now no elephants at all.
When did elephants start appearing in circuses?
"This is something that has been a big deal historically,"
-- Janet Davis, circus historian and professor at the University of Texas.
Elephants were in many circuses as early as the 1850s.
Show circus with elephants in 1850. Elephants are not performing, they're just in a menagerie. Don't use the word "menagerie".
The Barnum & Bailey Circus started in 1875. It had elephants.
Show Barnum & Bailey circus in 1875. Elephants are not performing, they're in a menagerie.
(It later merged with the Ringling Brothers circus. It's now called the "Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus", or just "The Ringling Brothers".)
Circus tent on left show "Ringling Bros." Circus tent on right shows "Barnum & Bailey". Two men in the middle shaking hands.
In 1883, P.T. Barnum started showing a white elephant. Many people had never heard of a white elephant.
Show Barnum pointing to a (mostly) white elephant. It's a little patchy.
Another circus also started showing a white elephant ...
Show another promoter pointing to his white elelphant.
... but that elephant was fake. It was only painted white.
Show somebody surreptitiously painting it white.
Why did Ringling Brothers decide to stop using elephants?
In 1998, Kenny, a 3-year-old Asian elephant, died.
Show picture of Kenny dead in his stall.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said that Kenny had been mistreated.
Show picture of a PETA protesters outside Kenny's stall.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture investigated.
Show Govt. officials investigating Kenny dead in stall.
They dropped the complaint. They did not find find that Ringling Brothers was guilty of mistreating Kenny.
Show govt. officials walking away.
The next year, in 1999, Benjamin, a 4-year-old elephant, also died.
Show picture of Benjamin dead next to a pond.
In 2009, PETA published a video of elephants being mistreated. Warning: this video is very disturbing.
In 2011, Mother Jones, a news organization, published a report about Ringling Brothers elephants.
The report is called "The Cruelest Show on Earth". You can read it here.
"We’re not reacting to our critics,"
-- Kenneth Feld, Feld Entertainment President
"The legislative landscape has become a patchwork quilt of really unnecessary restrictions and prohibitions around the country"
-- Stephen Payne, Feld Entertainment spokesman
What will happen to the current elephants?
13 elephants act in Ringling Brothers circuses now.
Show 13 elephants under a big tent.
In Florida, Feld Entertainment has an elephant conservation center.
Show Florida, with a region marked "Elephant Conservation Center".
There are 40 retired elephants there now.
Show some elephants in a fenced area. Try not to show the elephants either especially happy or especially suffering. There are fences.
By 2018, the remaining 13 elephants will also retire and join the others in the conservation center.
Show more elephants walking into the center.
What do other groups say?
There were three groups that were very important in making this change happen. They were the Humane Society, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
"This is startling and tremendously exciting"
-- Wayne Pacelle, Humane Society president and CEO
"The public won’t tolerate the abuse of elephants with sharp bullhooks or the constant chaining of these highly intelligent and mobile animals,"
-- Wayne Pacelle
"We're thrilled with this announcement ..."
-- Delcianna Winders, deputy general counsel for PETA
"... but it has to come much quicker than three years. Three years is too long to wait for animals suffering tremendously."
-- Delcianna Winders
"This is a tremendous victory for the elephants, and for everyone who fought for this change."
-- Matt Bershadker, ASPCA president and CEO