Ringing Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Elephants "Retired" to a Life of Cancer Research
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus have retired the last elephants in their show after a final performance on Sunday, but hold your applause because they may have just handed them off from one bleak way of life to another. Instead of heading to a sanctuary where they can live the rest of their lives in peace, the elephants face being subjects for human cancer research in the circus’ own facility – excuse me – “Center for Elephant Conservation.”
The very use of the word “retire” is cause for some head-scratching. Firstly, beings forced into servitude do not “retire” when they are released from said servitude at the whims of their masters. Secondly, ceasing involvement in one money-making venture only to start up another is also not what retirement means. The elephants seem to still be property of Ringling Bros. as they are taken to the Florida center owned by the same company.
It is, for now, unclear what kind of role the pachyderms will play in the research. It can be assumed, however, that similar practices to confine and otherwise control the animals will be used, instead of letting elephants live their own, autonomous lives in a safe space. If activists can push hard enough to make a globally beloved entertainment group end its 145-year practice of exploiting elephants, the same momentum can surely change the fate of these tired creatures who deserve peace.
Photo credit: Flickr