(PCM) There are currently 13 Asian elephants that travel with the Ringling Bros. circus and the company has now announced plans to retire their elephant performers by the year 2018.
The company says that they plan to phase the elephants out of their performing units over the next few years and future performances will feature other animals such as lions, tigers and horses.
In a statement Ringling Bros. owner and CEO of Feld Entertainment, Kevin Feld claimed that the decision was not an easy one, but it was in the best interest of the company, the elephants and the customers to begin the elephant phase out.
The company has faced severe penalties and criticism in the past for their treatment of animals and were even fined $270,000 by the USDA for several violations of the Animal Welfare Act. The Asian elephants used by Ringling Bros, are an endangered species and the company owns about 40 of them are currently at the company’s Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida. The Center was founded by Ringling Bros, back in 1995 to be able to study and care for Asian elephants.
The Ringling Bros. elephants perform in over 100 shows in various cities throughout the country and typically perform a synchronized dance routine. Feld claims that the is very proud of all the work that his family has put in to save the species from extinction.