Ringling Bros. Circus Will Feature Performing Elephants for the Final Time Tonight

By
Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

Elephants, pink or otherwise, will no longer be on parade at Ringling Bros, as the iconic circus will stop using performing elephants in their shows. Six Asian elephants will deliver their swansong performances in Providence, Rhode Island, and five will perform in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, tonight. Elephants have been a part of the circus for over 200 years — in the early 1800s (before the advent of PETA), Hackaliah Bailey added an elephant "Old Bet" to his circus, and P.T. Barnum added an African elephant called "Jumbo" to the Greatest Show on Earth in 1882. But the practice of dancing elephants adorned in clown attire has fallen out of favor in recent years, and many cities, such as Los Angeles and Oakland, California, have issued legislation or are contemplating producing legislation that bans bullhooks, which are long, hooked rods used to train elephants.

Smaller circuses continue to use the animals, but Ringling Bros. is arguably the largest and most famous, and could set a precedent. Alana Feld, executive vice president of Feld Entertainment, which owns the circus, told the AP the elephants will live at the 200-acre Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida, where they’ll be used in a pediatric cancer research project.