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Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus phasing out elephants in shows by 2018

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The greatest show on Earth is getting a makeover.

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus vowed Thursday that elephants, an iconic part of the long-running show, will be phased out of its performances by 2018.

The shocking announcement comes as public opinion has soured on the use of the majestic beasts on grueling tours that span the nation.

“There’s been somewhat of a mood shift among our customers,” said Alana Feld, the company’s executive vice president. “A lot of people aren’t comfortable with us touring with our elephants.”

Fans at a Thursday morning circus performance at the Nassau Coliseum were disappointed by the decision to idle the elephants.

“I still think they should reconsider,” said Karen Occhiogrosso, 48, who brought her 7-year-old daughter Ava to the show.

“We’ll miss it,” said the Long Islander. “It’s gotten ridiculous nowadays. I’m afraid to show pictures of the elephants on Facebook at this point. Who knows what people will comment?”

Shawn Smith, who came to the Uniondale, L.I., arena with his wife and their three kids, said the elephant decision left him puzzled.

“I’m shocked,” said Smith. “If it’s about animal cruelty, why not the other animals? What about the tigers?”

Fans of all ages clapped and cheered when the five pachyderms trotted to the center ring, where they performed a variety of stunts from balancing on tiny stools to tossing beach balls into the crowd.

The animals served as “a lifelong symbol” of the circus, and are “respected and revered” members of the Ringling Bros. family, the company website says.

The group runs a million, 200-acre elephant conservation facility, opened in 1995 in central Florida, “dedicated to the conservation, breeding and understanding of these amazing animals.”

Twenty-nine of the elephants live at the facility, while 13 will tour with the group until 2018, according to Feld. One is on a breeding loan to the Fort Worth Zoo.

In recent years, the tour has run into “anti-elephant” legislation at some of the 115 cities it visits each year, making planning and execution of the acts difficult.

Company officials noted they spent 5,000 per year for the care of each and every elephant.

This undated aerial photo provided by Feld Entertainment Inc., shows the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation in Polk City, Fla.
PreviousNextThis undated aerial photo provided by Feld Entertainment Inc., shows the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation in Polk City, Fla. Duchess , the Elephant from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, plays Monopoly on an oversized board and giant dice with Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian, far right, in Atlantic City, NJ., Wednesday, April 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Press of Atlantic City, Edward Lea) Enlarge
STEPHEN PAYNE/CENTER FOR ELEPHANT CONSERVATION/AP
This undated aerial photo provided by Feld Entertainment Inc., shows the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation in Polk City, Fla.

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, a vocal critic of Ringling Brothers’ elephant show for 35 years, praised the end of the elephant era — but wondered why the decision wasn’t immediately implemented.

“We know extreme abuse to these majestic animals occurs every single day, so if Ringling is really telling the truth about ending this horror, it will be a day to pop the champagne corks, and rejoice,” said a PETA said statement. “(But) three years is too long.”

The animal rights group NYCLASS echoed the sentiment.

“A three-year phase out means three years of continued torture,” said NYCLASS Executive Director Allie Feldman. “If Ringling is serious about ending abuse, they will send the elephants to a sanctuary now.”

The group will continue to use other animals in its shows but not the elephant, long synonymous with the circus and a powerful marketing tool that attracted the dazzled eyes of children around the world.

Learn more here http://sourcefed.com/ringling-bros-unveils-plan-to-leave-elephants-unemployed-by-2018/

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“Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus phasing out elephants in shows by 2018”