Ringling Bros. is retiring the elephants they force to perform tricks in May, a year and a half earlier than they said they would last year. According to this AP article,
The move comes amid increasing scrutiny of circus elephant acts with local governments passing “anti-circus” and “anti-elephant” ordinances in response to concerns over animal cruelty.
The eleven elephants currently being used for profit will be joining twenty-nine others at the Center for Elephant Conservation. There are two additional elephants being loaned out to zoos for breeding programs.
Last year, when the initial announcement was made, I thought it was a good thing. Elephants who have been beaten into performing stupid tricks for unassuming spectators were going to get to stop being beaten into performing stupid tricks for unassuming spectators. This is still a good thing – and it shows that the people who fought against bullhooks (and not, as wording might suggest, against elephants) in places like Oakland, California helped move us in the direction of change.
The Center for Elephant Conservation is problematic. As if we haven’t taken enough from these animals, the newly retired elephants will now be used in cancer research. What’s a little blood spilled between oppressed and oppressor, right? It would be ridiculous to send these animals to a sanctuary where they can live out the rest of their years not being used by humans, when there is still exploiting to do!
There is still so much work to be done on behalf of animals in entertainment – lions and tigers and bears and camels and everyone else who is part of this system of exploitation. This summer, Ringling’s circus goes on without the elephants. Don’t stop speaking out for their fellow animal performers. Keep moving in that direction of change. Because you must.