Tamara Lush via ABC News:
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The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus says the “Greatest Show on Earth” will go on without elephants.
Animal rights groups took credit for generating the public concern that forced the company to announce its pachyderm retirement plan on Thursday. But Ringling Bros.’ owners described it as the bittersweet result of years of internal family discussions.
“It was a decision 145 years in the making,” said Juliette Feld, referring to P.T. Barnum’s introduction of animals to his “traveling menagerie” in 1870. Elephants have symbolized this circus since Barnum brought an Asian elephant named Jumbo to America in 1882.
Kenneth Feld — whose father bought the circus in 1967 and who now runs Feld Enterprises Inc. with his three daughters — insisted that animal rights activists weren’t responsible.
“We’re not reacting to our critics; we’re creating the greatest resource for the preservation of the Asian elephant,” Kenneth Feld told The Associated Press as he broke the news that the last 13 performing elephants will retire by 2018, joining 29 other pachyderms at the company’s 200-acre Center for Elephant Conservation in central Florida.