Send the Ringling Bros Elephants to Sanctuaries
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As of May 2016 Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey retired all elephants from their circus performances, and moved them to the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation located in Polk City, FL. It is a breeding facility that, despite plans to end their circuses altogether, will continue to breed elephants; possibly to put them on exhibit either at the center or a location nearby that has yet to be decided. There are no plans for rehabilitation and relocation for them to be released into their natural habitat, or plans for a more natural sanctuary.
Feld, chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment, who owns the center and the previously mentioned circuses, argues they are breeding to conserve the species. However actions speak louder than words in that the center has done nothing to repopulate wild elephants. It would seem most of Feld's concern lies in what profits he can make off the elephants in the future.
Several problems arise concerning this center for 'conservation'. The area in which the elephants are held is flat, barren, with sparse vegetation. Females and younger elephants are occasionally allowed to roam in larger pastures, though are often penned for the entire day on nothing but an acre of sand. Males are constantly kept in these small pens. Some are given rubber balls, trees, chunks of concrete, or old tires to keep them occupied; but none of the work for long. Elephants have been found pacing, standing wearily with no spark or initiative to play or entertain themselves. One example would be a three year old female who has worn a foot deep, 30 foot oval around the tire in her pen; a clear example of zoochosis due to boredom. As intelligent animals, elephants require a broad spectrum of items and activities to keep them occupied and happy, and therefore healthy.
Elephants are trained from birth to sleep in barns, shackled, which is where they are fed once, maybe twice a day. They sleep on nothing but concrete floors, which are only cleaned once in the morning.
Per usual with Ringling and B&B bullhooks are used for training, from birth. Also known to be used for training baby elephants are stun guns, and cattle prods for all elephants.
They continue to breed elephants despite having no real "use" for them; one male alone has fathered 24 calves in his 48 years. Typically males do not start successfully reproducing until their 30s.
The treatment and housing of these gentle giants is unacceptable at the least. Demand that Feld Entertainment truly retire their elephants to REAL sanctuaries.
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