After announcing in early 2015 its plans to retire elephants used in its performances, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced today that due to increased public pressure, it would be ending the acts nearly two years early, retiring the animals by this May. Alana Feld, Ringling’s executive vice president told the Associated Press that though an initial 2018 deadline was reported last year, the company found that they would be able to release the elephants much sooner. The 11 animals will be permanently retired to the 200-acre Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida, also owned by Ringling Bros. The elephants will also reportedly be used as a part of cancer research, as rates of the diseases is considerably lower in pachyderms than in humans. No information about how the elephants will be used in this research, beyond a study of their DNA, has been made available. Public opinion concerning captive circus animals has slowly turned in recent years, with legislation in San Francisco, Oakland, Hawaii, and Mexico all indicative of the shift.
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