WASHINGTON, March 5 (UPI) -- The Ringling Bros. are eliminating the Barnum & Bailey Circus' elephant act, citing concerns about animal rights and treatment.
The 13 elephants currently part of the act will be sent to a conservation in Florida by 2018. One elephant is going to the Fort Worth Zoo for breeding. The circus will continue to include horses, dogs, tigers and other animals in its show.
Kenneth Feld, chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment said "this is the most significant change we have made since we founded the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation in 1995. When we did so, we knew we would play a critical role in saving the endangered Asian elephant for future generations, given how few Asian elephants are left in the wild ...This decision was not easy, but it is in the best interest of our company, our elephants and our customers."
Animal rights activists say the deadline is not soon enough.
"For 35 years PETA has protested Ringling Bros.' cruelty to elephants,'' said Ingrid Newkirk, president of PETA. But she added that the 2018 deadline is too far off. "Three years is too long for a mother elephant separated from her calf ... too long for an animal who roams up to 30 miles a day in the wild to be kept in shackles. If the decision is serious, then the circus needs to do it now."