The city initially had informed the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus the elephants would not be permitted to perform; based on the opinion of a veterinarian, they were arthritic and not receiving medication, The Sacramento Bee reported Sunday.
A city ordinance allows officials to monitor the care of circus animals while they're in the city.
When a second veterinarian, consulted after circus officials questioned the objectivity of the first veterinarian, gave a conflicting opinion, the city reversed itself and said the four elephants -- Bonnie, Karen, Minyak and Nicole -- could perform, the newspaper said.
The city informed Feld Entertainment, owner of the circus, interim City Manager Gus Vina said.
"Given that there was a mutual decision between the city and Feld to get that second opinion, we're going with that second opinion," Vina said.
Councilwoman Sandy Sheedy, who proposed the city ordinance, said she felt it had not been upheld.
"I'm feeling very strongly that we let Ringling Bros. tell us what to do," Sheedy said.