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Bowing to Public Pressure, Ringling Bros. to Phase Out 'Horrific' Exploitation of Elephants by 2018


Bowing to Public Pressure, Ringling Bros. to Phase Out 'Horrific' Exploitation of Elephants by 2018

Deirdre Fulton, staff writer

In what animal rights advocates are calling "a startling and tremendously exciting announcement," the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus said Thursday that it will retire its performing elephants by 2018.


There are few if any circuses in the world that have been able to evolve beyond the possessive form of ‘other’, which is to charaterize them as ‘exotic’. That is to say, pandering to the internalized exclusionary prejudice based on a notion that essentially says that an individual’s rights are dependent on getting what someone else might get, and the former coming out a loser.

On display is the final outcome, for entertainment/entrainment of a public victim mentality centuries old ideology that is profoundly colonial. First it dismisses baseline necessities for creatural existence. Then the economic ideology really kicks in and having erased the integrity of creature/environment extracts value from its body, wellbeing, and life. To be an ‘audience’ to a circus performance is to submit/subject oneself to one of the most hideous distortions perverted by human kind.

Perhaps we need to revisit the centuries old revolution in human conceptualization of ‘zero’ and what it actually meant and means. Instead of going to a circus, try exploring the world’s mythologies and identify the deities that introduce the concept of zero/ emptiness/void and think about the social concept of cease and desist. That is, the invisible treasure of to cease engagement with deleterious ideologies and desist from practices for the sake of leaving a place open for wellbeing, restraint and learning and loving.


“There’s been somewhat of a mood shift among our consumers,” Alana Feld, executive vice president of Ringling parent company Feld Entertainment, told the AP. “A lot of people aren’t comfortable with us touring with our elephants.”

This speaks to the root of the problem. Alana Feld suggests this a “consumer choice” issue. The “consumer” is always right apparently and just as with that rebirth of SUVS in the EU were the “consumers” to change their minds about Elephants trained to provide entertainment to that “consumer” the show would go on.


I am very suspicious of this decision. As another poster has pointed out, framing this as a “consumer” issue and not one that is based on the question of morality, animal rights, or simply “welfare” for the timid, implies that consumers could be swayed into “buying” the lie that it is somehow okay to train animals to perform for human entertainment. I think this is a strategic ploy to generate support for animal slavery, which is really what these circus animal acts are all about. Indeed, the time frame, a full three years, before the last of these slaves get to be retired to the “sanctuary” the Felds have provided for them, makes me very suspicious. What kind of marketing are they planning in the interim? I will believe it when I see it. And in the meantime, how about retiring ALL the animals that are removed from their families, natural environments, deprived of outlets for natural behavior, etc? Can we bring the necessary “consumer” pressure to bear to end it all?