Ringling Bros.

Great news today as Ringling Bros. says it will stop using elephants in its acts by 2018. While the company says this has nothing to do with all the criticism they’ve absorbed in recent years, just a couple of years ago they made it plain they didn’t want to take this step. It’s a step toward better treatment for animals and a step away from forcing them to perform, confining them in small spaces in zoos, and abusing them and keeping them from living a more natural life. (The issue of forced breeding is also touched on in this story.) And there’s a lot to learn from the tactics that protesters used here: Ringling Bros. cited anti-performing elephant and anti-circus laws in addition to the outcry over the treatment of elephants and their use in the circus. I don’t know much about the company’s home for elephants, which the New York Times calls a “rural, ranchlike property.” There are a lot of important questions: how big is this place? What kind of amenities does it have? Who works there? Will the elephants stay there permanently? Will they be chained up? But this is important progress in improving the treatment of animals.

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