Yesterday Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced it would stop using elephants in its shows. I strongly oppose using megafauna in circuses. Performing elephants are systematically abused their entire lives, so I applaud this announcement, even though it’s much murkier than it should be.
For one thing, the official press release flirts with disingenuous. Excerpt:
“As the circus evolves, we can maintain our focus on elephant conservation while allowing our business to continue to meet shifting consumer preferences.”
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey has long maintained that it has a deep interest in the welfare of the Asian elephant as a species, and that’s the stated purpose of the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation. (The actual purpose is that it has been an elephant farm, used to supply the circus with elephants after it became illegal to take them from the wild.) They claim to want to turn this facility into something open to the public, which will get considerably easier once the abhorrent training methods are no longer necessary. We shall see.
(And I guess “shifting consumer preferences” is about as close as we’re going to get to “too many people are repulsed by how performing elephants are treated and it’s hurting the bottom line.”)
Why 2018? Why so long? I understand that this is a decision with a significant business impact, but that seems an awfully long time to sort out how things will go.
Ringling Bros., though it’s obviously being taken begrudgingly, this is a step. Thank you. Make it happen. I’m hopeful that as you implement this change, your rhetoric will begin tacking more toward honesty.
And let’s talk big cats next.