The greatest elephants on earth

Popular circus releases performing elephants

Photo courtesy of via creative commons

Mary Alphonse and Lauren Kronzer

In 1884 five rambunctious brothers, Albert, August, Otto, Alfred T., Charles, John and Henry Ringling North started one of the world’s most famous circuses, the Ringling Bros. In 1919 the Bros. combined forces with Barnum & Bailey Circus to promote The Greatest Show on Earth.Similar to other shows, one act includes a mesmerizing showcase of performing elephants. However, on May 1st, 2016, the beloved elephants performed for the last time. For their last performance in Providence, RI,  the elephants ended with a bang. Although it was sad to see them go, the elephants are scheduled to head to a Florida conservation center by 2018.

While the extravagant mammals were still performing with the circus, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey had received many complaints from animal rights activists protesting the alleged mistreatment of the animals. According to CNN, on the day of the elephants retirement, “animal activists, including PETA, were there to protest the treatment of the animals.” Many organizations and even a-list celebrities such as actor and comedian Alec Baldwin, have boycotted the use of animals in circuses. Since these protests, the circus has done much to try to quiet down the passionate protesters even posting on their twitter on November fifth defending their staff and treatment of the animals.

Junior Brooke Bowen, Vice President of the Battlefield High School Humane Society, voices that “wild animals in general should not be used for entertainment. It just is not fair to keep a wild animal captive and force it to perform.” In the case of wild animals in general she believes the most important aspect is the well-being and freedom of the animals.   

Due to the large outcry of protest, in 1995 the circus decided to start an elephant conservation site now know as Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation (CEC). CEC announces that in 2018 all 13 of their retired elephants will call the conservation center home. The facility emphasizes on their website,, the importance of  “the comfort and well-being of the Asian elephants: plenty of food, water, shade, places to sleep and areas where the animals could be groomed regularly.”

Sophomore Abigail Houchin believes that instead of the animals being in the wild, “they would be safer in a sanctuary.” Although the elephants would feel most at home in the wild, due to current conditions, the safest place for them is in a sanctuary.

After facing much turmoil for their violations of the Animal Welfare Act, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey have settled their elephant epidemic.