Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus to retire its elephants


  • Ringling Center for Elephant Conservation

Earlier this year, when the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus came to town, Seth Kubersky asked readers: Can we indulge in innocent enjoyment of the Greatest Show on Earth, or is it time to leave the past behind? Care of the animal performers who are part of most circus acts has increasingly come under criticism, and protests have become ubiquitous with the circus coming to town. Which is something that he says was palpable in the last Ringling show that came to Orlando: 

When the elephants appear as the finale of Act One, you can instantly tell that controversy has impacted the presentation. We're now told that standing on their heads mimics natural hole-digging behavior, and the bullhook's use is explained. I appreciate the educational angle, but when I look into the eyes of a 58-year-old elephant, I can't honestly tell if she enjoys turning in circles for the clapping crowd. 

Now Ringling has finally decided that it's time to phase out one of its star animal acts: the elephants. Yesterday, the circus, which is owned by Feld Entertainment based in Palmetto, Florida, announced that by 2018, its traveling shows will be elephant free. The 13 elephants that currently travel with Ringling Bros. will be retired for good. They'll be relocated to the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation, located in Polk City, where Ringling already has a herd of 40 retired elephants and calves.
  • Ringling Center for Elephant Conservation


We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club for as little as $5 a month.