If you want to see the last appearance of the elephant parade in the Greatest Show on Earth, you'll have to hurry. The pachyderms will be making their final bow this May.
Last year, the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus announced it would be phasing out its iconic rubber mules by 2018, with the 11 animals currently in the show, joining the 29 that the company keeps at its Centre for Elephant Conservation in Florida.
Having progressed quicker than anticipated on the building of new accommodation, however, the elies will now leave the show at the end of its current season in May, and a new elephant-free version of the Ringling show will take to the road in July without the trunks that have been its iconic symbol for more than 100 years.
Feld Entertainment, which owns Ringling, cited changing public tastes and new legislation such as a ban on use of the ankus, bullhook or elephant guide in Los Angeles, which would make it impossible for the circus to appear there.
The elephants new role will include assisting in cancer research. The low incidence of cancer in elephants has led some scientists to believe that their blood and DNA could be key to finding a cure for cancer.
The retirement of the Ringling elephants is seen as a victory for animal rights groups that have long picketed the show and called for an end to all animals in circus. But are claims of cruelty justified?
Click here to read my piece on Ringling Elephants and the Ankus - Is it time to let circuses off the hook?
|Me and the elephant|