Thursday, March 5, 2015

Elephants Never Forget

Me at Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus Protest, Sep. 24, 2014  SLC, Utah
What a fantastic morning!  I get on the web to check my emails and Facebook and what do I find but tens of press releases and commentaries stating that Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey just announced plans to remove elephants from their traveling circus performances!

"The Feld Family, owners of Feld Entertainment, Inc., the parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey®, announced plans today to remove Asian elephants from their traveling circus performances. Under the plan, 13 elephants currently traveling with the three Ringling Bros. circus units will be relocated to the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant for Conservation® in Florida by 2018. There they will join the rest of the Ringling Bros. herd of more than 40 elephants.  […] The circus will continue to feature other extraordinary animal performers, including tigers, lions, horses, dogs and camels."

This is incredible news!!  Unfortunately these changes will not be fully executed until 2018, nor are they removing all the animal features from their shows.  It’s not perfect, but it is certainly progress.  Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey is a leader in this industry.  I hope their example today will have an impact for good on other animal circuses, influencing them to make the same changes to their entertainment lineups.  Dare I hope?!

Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus Protest - September 24, 2014 Salt Lake City, Utah
As someone who has taken an active part in exposing the realities of elephants in entertainment, discouraging public support of such forums, this progress means worlds to me!  I feel proud to have played a part in this change!  A very small part, granted, but still a role, adding my presence to that of thousands of concerned citizens.  And I was but a recent convert to the cause.  I can only imagine how thrilled other animal activists must be—those who have carried this banner for years upon years, seeing little to no results—until today!  

 The real winners are the elephants.  May they find rest and peace as they are transitioned out of entertainment and reunited with the conservation herd.  I don’t know exactly what the conditions are like there, but minus the relentless rigors of training, touring, performing, cages, and bullhooks they are sure to be much more comfortable.

There is still work to be done here—the non-elephant animals in the circus deserve freedom as surely as their large, grey and scaly friends.  But today we must acknowledge a huge victory.  Maybe, just maybe, the country’s prevailing attitude toward animals is changing.  Are people waking up to what’s really going on and demanding something different—something better?  Compassion?!

They say elephants never forget.  Well, I will never forget this day… Today I celebrate progress!  May there be more of it in days and years to come.

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