Activists question circus’ elephant release delay

The circus says it will take time to plan elephants' care. Picture: AP
The circus says it will take time to plan elephants' care. Picture: AP
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ANIMAL rights activists were stunned and pleased when the parent company of Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced it would eliminate elephants from its circus performances by 2018.

But activists soon focused on the timing, questioning why it will take three years to phase out the elephants from the travelling circus shows.

“Many of the elephants are painfully arthritic, and many have tuberculosis, so their retirement day needs to come now,” wrote Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, in a statement. “If the decision is serious, then the circus needs to do it NOW.”

Executives at Feld Entertainment, Ringling’s parent company, say it will take three years to build proper facilities for them on the 200-acre plot of land in central Florida that is already being used as an elephant conservation centre.

They have repeatedly denied that the elephants are mistreated in any way in the circuses.

“Each elephant requires a certain amount of space and a certain amount of barn area,” said Stephen Payne, Feld’s spokesman, adding that permits, drainage issues and other logistics must be worked out.

The company intends for the elephants to live out their years on the property and they must plan their long-term care.