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Ringling Bros. Phasing out Elephants by 2018

Discussion in 'United States' started by uszoo, 5 Mar 2015.

  1. uszoo

    uszoo Well-Known Member

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    AP Exclusive: Ringling Bros. Eliminating Elephant Acts - ABC News

    This is a shocking decision given there history with the species, but it was going to happen eventually. I think the circus should also phase out there big cats as well. But I think keeping there hoofed animals (horses, zebra, camel) and small animals is fine. I am just wondering what will happen to these animals. I hope they will maintain there breeding center and contribute to the SSP.
     
  2. savethelephant

    savethelephant Well-Known Member

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    They consider themselves the world's largest menagerie so that title might be removed
     
  3. Junior Friendly

    Junior Friendly Active Member

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    I do not find this news surprising. In the UK there are no elephants currently touring in circuses, the last Ann retired to Longleat Safari Park in 2011. I would think in time Ringlings will also do away with cage acts and concentrate on domestic species only, as will eventually happen in Europe, Germany in particular.
     
  4. jay

    jay Well-Known Member

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    I was wondering about the breeding center as they have an excellent record of breeding over at least two generations. Last I looked it was over 20? births. An article I read said that the performing animals would be sent an "elephant sanctuary" for old and sick elephants. I would think that the breeding center would be the better place. But then the article was from an animal rights group and they were crowing over "their"success.
    I see that the article above, that I didn't read first says that the performing animals would be sent to the center
     
  5. zooboy28

    zooboy28 Moderator Staff Member

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    Here is an article that discusses the decision and plans for the future. All elephants will go to the breeding centre (as stated in the first article).

    Full story here: Ringling Bros circus to stop elephant acts by 2018 | Stuff.co.nz

     
  6. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

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    Step in the right direction, if you ask me. This was only a matter of time anyway.
     
  7. azcheetah2

    azcheetah2 Well-Known Member

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    Hmmm. I wonder if Ringling's Center for Elephant Conservation is the same facility our female Reba was at when she killed her keeper due to mistreatment...it's still owned by Ringling so it can't be much better than staying with the circus. Sure, they won't be traveling and performing anymore, but they will likely still be treated the same way.
     
  8. cloudedleopard

    cloudedleopard Well-Known Member

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    Why don't they shut down the "Elephant Conservation" Center, and move them to sanctuaries or zoos?
     
  9. DDcorvus

    DDcorvus Well-Known Member

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    Would that be an improvement for the animals? They have an impressive breeding record at the Elephant Conservation Center, at least better than anyone else in the world and you don't get that if your husandry is not of a good quality.
     
  10. Yassa

    Yassa Well-Known Member

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    Neither is Ringling better then anyone else at breeding elephants - Emmen Zoo in the Netherlands had almost 30 births of Asian elephants since 1992 (most of them sucessful), and the more recent sucess of San Diego Safari Park with African elephants is very impressive, too -

    nor is sucessful breeding a sign if good husbandry or animal welfare. Asian elephants are not that hard to breed, actually. You just need females that are young when having their first calf (ideally no more then 15 years old) and bulls that are mature enough to dominate the females. You can keep females and calves in chains as much as you want or train them with violence - that won`t affect the breeding sucess much as long as the bull has acess to the girls at the right time. That elephants in US zoos breed so poorly is mainly the effect of very bad management (zoos that had young females refused to send them to zoos that had bulls, a problem that still continues).

    There is not a lot of information of the day-to-day life of the elephants at Ringling`s CEC, but from the pictures I have seen, there are many, many small, barren sand paddocks without pools and only a few bigger yards. Most of the elephants and especially the bulls must spend the majority of their life in enclosures/paddocks that are worse then the elephant enclosures of a good zoo. The barns appear to be very basic with only cement floor, and I`d really like to know if the females and calves are still chained overnight.

    Because of course this is a circus facility run by circus people who use circus methods - chains, dominance, bullhooks - to train and handle the elephants.

    Because Ringling needs calves for the circus tours, they are seperated from their mothers when around 2 years old. That`s an age where any baby elephant is not just still nursing, but emotionally completely dependent on his mother`s care. That a lot of the young females bred at Ringling have to travel with the shows is actually hindering the breeding sucess - travelling elephants can`t be used for breeding, and because of that, the females on the show never have babys (exept a single one, Bonnie, who got pregnant by AI while on tour and subsequently produced a male calf who got too aggressive for circus life at age 4).

    I am very, very relieved that at least the elephants won`t have to travel any more in a few years, but life at the CEC is not what I want for any elephant. Since caring for so many "useless" elephants cost a lot of money, I guess Ringling would like to send at least some of them to zoos. But a lot of Ringling`s elephants are infected with the human strain of tuberculosis, which is a major problem in re-homing them.
     
  11. DDcorvus

    DDcorvus Well-Known Member

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    Emmen has less births than Ringling. 20 Young that survived (and 3 DNS) impressive but still not as impressive as Ringling. And you present as if getting succesfull offspring with elephants it is easy. It is not even if you the cows that started breeding young enough and have a proven male there are still enough zoos struggling. The most succesful zoos in Netherlands with elephants are Rotterdam and Emmen, both with stable herds (Emmen had some power struggles in the herd last years but those are resolved) with young and experienced cows. Also their husbandry is good including the enclosures.

    Like you I don't like animals to be used by circuses as I as well consider the travelling too much of a burden, but they seem to know know what they are doing and are successful with them and have a better breading record than anyone else in the world.
     
  12. azcheetah2

    azcheetah2 Well-Known Member

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    Why do they even need to breed elephants? Aren't there enough in captivity? And since they won't be having them in their shows anymore, there's no real need to ensure they always have plenty for years to come. And by breeding them they are creating a surplus and overpopulation.
     
  13. lintworm

    lintworm Moderator Staff Member

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    There is still no long-term viable elephant population in zoos. Although a lot of good work is done, there are still a lot of zoos with a non-breeding situations and wild caught animals. So extra breeding is really necessary! The only problem that it gives is a large number of male elephants that have to be placed somewhere, but that is something all zoos are struggling with...
     
  14. azcheetah2

    azcheetah2 Well-Known Member

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    That makes sense. But I'd like to see the percentage of zoos that acquire elephants through the center's breeding operations. 2 of the 3 elephants the Phoenix Zoo has came from Ringling Brothers, but they were former circus animals, not breeding stock. They would have been destroyed if Phoenix Zoo hadn't taken them in due to their aggression, especially Reba. The San Diego Wild Animal Park (aka Safari Park) is going to have issues in a few more years with the number of males when they reach maturity because they had a bunch of males born and only recently a female. I forget how many male calves they have currently, even after sending 2 of them to Tucson with their mother.
     
  15. wensleydale

    wensleydale Well-Known Member

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    If I remember correctly the National Elephant Center was in part meant to serve as a home for excess males, however it is in Florida, which is quite a hike. I don't really understand why we shouldn't (of course there is inevitably more to this kind of project than you think there is) see if we can designate a large area, maybe on BLM land, as an Elephant area and maybe use it as an experiment to see how they would really affect the ecosystem there. Then again it might not be as feasible as I think it is.

    But getting back to the subject at hand, I bet some of them will end up in zoo's, if I recall correctly one of theirs is on loan to Syracuse now. Maybe they could contribute somehow. I'm honestly hoping that they redo the whole Elephant conservation center into something really nice for the Elephants, and eventually open it up to the public as some kind of mostly elephant zoo with a very conservation oriented breeding program. Don't know if it will happen through.
     
  16. azcheetah2

    azcheetah2 Well-Known Member

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    I like both of your suggestions, although they're probably not feasible, as you've said. I think it would be a very good idea.

    The potential problem I can see is that since the breeding facility is still owned by Ringling Brothers and is still run by the same people who've been doing it all this time. If they use protected contact and don't use bullhooks, then I have no problem with the place, but since some zoos still use them (I think Oakland Zoo only recently banned their use) and Ringling Brothers has been using them for ages, they may not see a "need" to stop. Of course, that is assuming they still use such practices, but I can't find anything on the center's website that either supports or refutes the use of bullhooks. The pictures make it out to be a nice place for them and maybe they HAVE improved their handling practices. We can only hope.
     
  17. wensleydale

    wensleydale Well-Known Member

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  18. wally war eagle

    wally war eagle Well-Known Member

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    If captive elephants become overpopulated, the Copenhagen zoo culling could be performed with human family participation and feeding to carnivores.
     
  19. loxodontaafrica

    loxodontaafrica Well-Known Member

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    A lot of misinformation circulating.
    First of all, the African elephant male surplus at the San Diego SP is completely irrelevant to the conversation at hand. Glad the NEC exist, but it's first year has been a massive and complete failure. Losing a pregnant female in the birthing process (odd considering she had calved twice prior) and a young male to a salmonella infection... Completely unacceptable.

    Anyways back to Ringling

    Ringling has two breeding males on loan to AZA institutions.
    Doc---> Syracuse, who is expecting two calves this year
    Casey---> Ft. Worth, though he has yet to sire a surviving calf

    People with in the elephant TAG are really excited about this decision and were actually working with Ringling, as now the company's viable females will not be concentrated in the effort to maintain circus numbers.
    But to be honest, the current holders for the Asian elephant could not handle a dispersal of Ringling's elephants. So perhaps AZA overhaul of the CEC to serve as it's "Asian elephant campus of the NEC." Or perhaps a zoo (Miami Metro?) could attain ownership, exhibiting a herd at the zoo and maintaining the breeding stock on behalf of the SSP, similar to Pittsburgh's intention with its African elephant breeding program at its Center.

    I sincerely believe the post reproductive animals should be sent to TES and PAWS (of course in the non-family unit scenario, though no breeding stock from the beginning of the Ringling breeding program are technically considered post-reproductive and have bred well into their 40's).



    @Yassa I'm pretty sure the only two females of breeding age are presently on the road, with Angelica (97') and Juliette (92'). Though that was with the tour registry of 2012, so both could be at the center already. I'm not completely certain. I believe I heard Juliette is a flatliner.
    Of course young females have toured and may still be on the road, but they aren't inhibiting the breeding program by participating in such (not that I morally agree with this).

    And yes, unless things have changed recently the elephants are chained at night in a communal area with concrete flooring. Expecting cows/cows with young calves are given separate more comfortable quarters though.
     
  20. Yassa

    Yassa Well-Known Member

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    That´s not correct. I just checked and Emmen had 28 births between 1992-2014 (most of which are still alive today). Ringling`s website says they had 26. Regardless how easy it is to breed elephants, the fact that they breed well says nothing about how happy they are and how good their living conditions are. Hannover Zoo (Germany) and Portland Zoo (USA) had both more then a dozend of mostly sucessful elephant births in the 60`th and 70`th and their enclosures were totally awful. There are more examples like that..

    @azcheeta2: You are right to assume that nothing has changed at the CEC about the way they treat the elephants since Reba lived there. Of course they are still using free contact and bullhooks to handle the females and calves at the CEC. Only the bulls are in protected contact. During the big trial with some AR groups, Ringling employees openly admitted that baby elephants are routinely beaten and chained while they "learn" to obey to their human handlers.