Ringling Circus elephants give final performance before retirement

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The elephants of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey circus are performing their act for the last time in Providence, or anywhere.

Ringling brothers’ parent company Feld Entertainment announced last year their decision to end the traveling elephant acts, and are following through with that promise almost two years ahead of schedule.

The final shows in Providence were scheduled for Sunday at 3p.m. and 7p.m. at the Dunkin Donuts Center in downtown Providence.

“The asian elephant has been the treasured symbol of Barnum and Bailey’s for almost 146 years,” says Stephen Payne, Vice-President of Corporate Communications for Feld Entertainment.”Tonight really does mark a special occasion here in Providence, Rhode Island.”

The Humane Society began a movement to end elephant acts in circuses after learning of the conditions the wild animals face in such an enterprise. Animal rights groups have claimed that elephant training involves punishments such as confinement and the use of bullhooks.

There are currently two bills pending in the Rhode Island state legislature which would make it illegal to use bullhooks on elephants, which is known as common practice by animal trainers.

The eleven circus elephants performing in Rhode Island and Pennsylvania this weekend will retire their headdresses and tricks to live out the rest of their lives at the Ringling Brother’s Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida.

In an effort to end elephant poaching in Africa, Kenyans organized the largest ivory burn to date Saturday, sending 105 tons of ivory up in flames.

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