Ringling Bros. Ends Elephant Acts with Local Shows

Ringling Bros. will stop using elephants for good after three shows in Providence. (Tim Faulkner/ecoRI News)

Ringling Bros. will stop using elephants for good after three shows in Providence. (Tim Faulkner/ecoRI News)

By TIM FAULKNER/ecoRI News staff

PROVIDENCE — Elephants will have their last performance ever with Ringling Brothers Circus this weekend at the Dunkin' Donuts Center, ending a 145-year run for the world’s largest land animal. Animal rights advocates, however, say other animals should be kept from the three-ring circus.

After the weekend, the heard of Asian elephants will retire to the 200-acre Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida. The facility hosts researchers, students and conservationists to learn about global care, conservation and health of Asian elephants. The center’s website says the elephants are given “plenty of food, water, shade, places to sleep and areas where the animals could be groomed regularly.”

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) applauded Ringling Bros. decision to stop using elephants in all shows, but it has described the conservation facility as a breeding farm and a disease-prone place “where elephants are kept in shackles, bred, and used as test subjects.”

PETA also has called for Ringling Bros. to stop using tigers, horses, camels and other animals that are stressed through travel in confining boxcars “and forced to perform ridiculous tricks using fear, punishment, and pain.”

The Humane Society of the United States also has called for the end of using wild animals by Ringling Bros. and other live shows.

Rhode Island has two bills (H7604 and S2868) in the General Assembly that outlaw the use of bullhooks, the fire-poker-like tool used to pull and prod elephants. Massachusetts has a similar bill.

According to the Animal Legal Defense Fund, Rhode Island ranks seventh-best in the nation for animal protection laws. Massachusetts ranks 10th, and Connecticut 31st.