Consider this a win for all animals.
The popular Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is closing down for good.
"After much evaluation and deliberation, my family and I have made the difficult business decision that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey will hold its final performances in May of this year," Kenneth Feld, CEO of Ringling Bros.' parent company, Feld Entertainment, said in a statement. "Ringling Bros. ticket sales have been declining, but following the transition of the elephants off the road, we saw an even more dramatic drop. This, coupled with high operating costs, made the circus an unsustainable business for the company."
The final show will take place on May 7, 2017.
The popular family attraction has been around since 1919 and built itself a reputation around its extreme entertainment value.
However, over the last couple decades, the circus has gathered its fair share of animal welfare issues. Since 1993, the circus has received over 50 animal welfare citations. They have been cited for their cruel training approach, using bull hooks to control elephants, and untimely deaths of baby elephants. In 2004, one of their elephants was shot in the neck during a drive-by shooting, but was forced back onto the road just a year later. In 2015, the circus announced they would be phasing elephants out of the show due to public concern.
The show still employed large cats, such as tigers, who were also incredibly mistreated. Jay Pratte, a 25-year veteran animal trainer, conducted an investigation into the welfare of the circus animals and was greatly disturbed by what he found.
"What is actually occurring is environmental and physiological neglect, psychological abuse, and coercing the tigers to behave through dominance and fear-based techniques," Pratte said. "The big cats … are managed through fear, coercion, and punishment."
Thankfully, these animals are all being given a new life. While it hasn't been announced exactly where these animals are headed, they will most likely be transferred to shelters and conservatories for wild animals that have been held captive. The closure of the circus also ensures no other wild animal will be subjected to the Ringling Bros. controversial performances.
If you want to help these rescued animals, you can donate to the Performing Animal Welfare Society, which is already home to several former Ringling Bros. elephants.