Serving the scholastic field hockey and lacrosse community since 1998

March 5, 2015 — The retirement of some very large targets

During the ongoing tour of the Ringling Brothers-Barnum & Bailey circus to large indoor venues across the United States, one prominent feature of the publicity for the circus was a parade of elephants through city streets, which allowed passersby from all social classes to gawk at the exotic animals who have been part of the show for more than a century.

But as much as elephants could help galvanize the imagination of the public, they also were a very large target for animal rights activists and for others concerned about animal welfare. Today, the circus’ holding company announced that it would be phasing out the elephants within three years.

Circuses were one of the few places where one could see wild animals from other continents, and pachyderms have been part of traveling shows in the U.S. since 1795. But with concerns over elephants worldwide, especially their status as an endangered species in Africa, has partially resulted in this decision.

Note the word “partially.”

What I think has also happened is that other circus promotions have outstripped Ringling Brothers-Barnum & Bailey in terms of popularity — mostly by going back to the roots of circus performance.

Before relying heavily on animal acts, early circuses were all about jugglers and acrobats and people walking on wires. Today, the wildly popular Cirque du Soleil company puts on 18 different shows in locations around the world.

It’s apparent that Ringling is going after this very lucrative market. We’ll see if they also ditch the rest of the wild animals it uses in its performances.


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