The “Greatest Show on Earth” is making a huge change. On Thursday, Ringling Brothers, announced that elephants would no longer be part of their show. Ringling Brothers will phase out the elephant acts over the course of three years–the changeover will be complete by 2018.
Historically, the elephant acts have been the most popular and most anticipated acts of the circus.
“Traditionally…elephants are the stars of the parade when circuses come to town. There was even a 19th-century phrase, “to see the elephant,” a euphemism used by soldiers for seeing battle, recognizing the wonder and rarity of these giant animals,” said circus historian Janet Davis to CNN.
However, the treatment of elephants by Feld Entertainment (the firm Ringling Brothers is part of) has been scrutinized by many.
“It [Ringling Brothers] has been repeatedly criticized, picketed and even sued by several animal rights groups, including the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Humane Society of the United States. In 2011, the circus was fined $270,000 by the USDA for violations of the Animal Welfare Act,” reports CNN Money.
Other animals, such as tigers, lions and dogs will still be part of the circus performance.
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