Animal rights groups have scored a major victory against the Greatest Show On Earth, but that isn’t stopping the protests.
The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, America’s best-known circus, announced Monday it will relocate all its elephants to a conservation center here in Florida by the end of May. That pushes up the retirement date for circus pachyderms by more than a year.
The Ringling announcement comes after years of protests from animal rights organizations who’ve long accused the circus of mistreating the elephants (a charge circus management denies).
Parent company Feld Entertainment had originally said that the elephants, a centerpiece of the 145-year-old traveling show, would not be gone by 2018.
The announcement isn’t satisfying groups such as People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals or PETA.
“It’s not all sunshine and roses for the ‘retired’ elephants,” PETA said in a statement.
“At Ringling’s grandiosely named Center for Elephant Conservation elephants will no doubt still be chained on a daily basis, be forced to breed, be deprived of opportunities to interact and socialize normally, and continue to live in fear of being hit with bullhooks,” the statement said.
“The big question is where are the elephants going and how are they going to be treated. Ringling made its money off the back of animals so I can’t see that changing,” said Adam Sugalski, the creative director of Compassion Works International, a First Coast group dedicated to ending animal cruelty.
Sugalski and others will be protesting Ringling on January 21st when the circus visits Jacksonville.
Meanwhile, Republican front-runner Donald Trump even weighed in about the big elephant announcement:
.@RinglingBros is retiring their elephants– the circus will never be the same.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 11, 2016