It's Official: No More Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Elephants in Anaheim

Feld Entertainment CEO Kenneth Feld with his elephant pals.
Feld Entertainment CEO Kenneth Feld with his elephant pals.
Feld Entertainment

Before the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus moved into the Honda Center last July, a representative from "The Greatest Show on Earth" strongly suggested that two-week run might be the last chance for Anaheim audiences to see performing circus elephants.

That seemed curious given owner Feld Entertainment had previously announced the Asian elephants would remain on tour through 2018 because it would take that long to accommodate them all at the company's conservation center in Florida.

But, sure enough, now the Feld family has announced the elephants will move out from under the stage lights and into their "permanent home" this coming May, explaining the center was ready for the huge performers earlier than expected.

“Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey brings families together to share in pure fun and wonder through live entertainment. From now until May 2016, our elephants will continue to be a part of that wonderful experience, and we invite families that want to see our amazing elephants perform one last time to have an opportunity to do so,” says Alana Feld, Ringling Bros. producer and executive vice president with Feld Entertainment, in a company statement.

That freezes out Orange County because the circus comes to town every two years, so the next engagement will not be until 2017 year, but a Honda Center rep confirms it will be after May in 2016.

Feld vows the "family’s commitment to save the majestic Asian elephant will continue through our breeding program, research and conservation efforts at the center," adding some elephants will also have a role in a "pioneering pediatric cancer research project" in Utah.

The company's biggest foe when it has come to performing elephants has been People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, which welcomed the news of the elephants' earlier retirement.

"The dwindling audiences have spoken by walking away, and legislators have voted to stop animal acts, so, as of May, no more elephants will be jammed in Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus trains and hauled around the country: The circus has moved up its deadline for eliminating elephant performances," says PETA in a statement.

However, as anyone who has followed the nasty, back-and-forth battle between the circus and the activists over the years could guess, PETA continued to twist the knife, noting it's "good news, but it’s not all sunshine and roses for the 'retired' elephants."

The statement goes on to take a rhetorical, elephant-sized dump on Ringling’s Center for Elephant Conservation, alleging elephants will no doubt be chained on a daily basis, forced to breed, deprived of opportunities to interact and socialize normally, and continue to live in fear of being hit with bullhooks.

The nonprofit also claimed the CEC "is teeming with tuberculosis" and accused Ringling of experimenting on elephants at the facility and selling them.

"Pulling elephants from the road is a step in the right direction, but Ringling should get out of the whole animal business altogether," PETA concludes. "The elephants should be taken to legitimate sanctuaries, and all the animal acts should come to an end."

Here is the company's full statement:

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Herd of Asian Elephants Will Move to their Permanent Home at the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida in May 2016

The Feld Family, owners of Feld Entertainment, Inc., the parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey®, announced that all of the Asian elephants from their traveling circus units will be moved to their permanent home at the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation® in Florida in May 2016. There they will join the rest of the Ringling Bros. herd of Asian elephants, for a total of 42 at the Conservation Center.

In March of last year, Feld Entertainment announced all of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s touring elephants would move to the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation by 2018. Since then, the company’s dedicated staff has made the necessary plans and preparations to move the elephants to the Center for Elephant Conservation much sooner than anticipated.

The elephants’ move to Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation will allow the company to focus on its Asian elephant conservation program and the pediatric cancer research partnership with Dr. Joshua Schiffman of Primary Children’s Hospital and The Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City, Utah, all while continuing to provide a unique family experience at the circus with the next edition of The Greatest Show On Earth®.

“Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey brings families together to share in pure fun and wonder through live entertainment. From now until May 2016, our elephants will continue to be a part of that wonderful experience, and we invite families that want to see our amazing elephants perform one last time to have an opportunity to do so,” said Alana Feld, Ringling Bros. Producer and Executive Vice President with Feld Entertainment. “Our company and our family’s commitment to save the majestic Asian elephant will continue through our breeding program, research and conservation efforts at the Center. This transition will also allow us to fully focus on the role our elephants have in the pioneering pediatric cancer research project with Dr. Schiffman.”


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