The famed circus Ringling Bros. retires the last 11 elephants, which will then travel to Ringling's 200-acre Center for Elephant Conservation in central Florida. Rough Cut - no reporter narration
NATURAL ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) Elephants take a final bow at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus on Sunday (May 1), ending a 145-year spectacle that delighted fans and enraged animal activists, who say the highly publicized retirement is not enough.The last 11 elephants touring with "The Greatest Show on Earth" on May 1 will leave behind their enormous studded tiaras and begin traveling on Monday to Ringling's 200-acre Center for Elephant Conservation in central Florida, said Alana Feld, executive vice president for the circus' parent company, Feld Entertainment. Mable, Juliette and nine other female Asian elephants are retiring earlier than originally planned amid an animal rights movement that has gained momentum with SeaWorld halting its orca breeding program in March and ceasing its killer whale entertainment shows by the end of 2016. But the U.S. has a long way to go, say animal activists including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Even after the Ringling elephants perform their last can-can dance in Sunday shows in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania and Providence, Rhode Island, a total of 69 elephants will still be in the possession of smaller U.S. circuses and traveling acts, with some too crippled to be exhibited and some kept for breeding, said PETA campaigner John Di Leonardo. While at least 17 other countries have outlawed circuses with wild animals, the U.S. awaits its first ban by a state - Hawaii is poised to do so - and more than a dozen U.S. municipalities have enacted their own prohibitions. Even Ringling's Polk City, Florida, facility itself was denounced by PETA. A Reuters reporter who toured the camp in October said the dozens of elephants already living there were corralled in groups of twos and threes in scrub-filled areas about the size of a suburban back yard that gave them enough room to walk around but not to run free, and included toys and in some cases a tree. At night they stay in large barns, with their feet often chained to keep them from stealing each other's food. The center works with a range of outside researchers, including scientists studying cancer prevention in humans who are trying to determine why elephants face a lower risk of the deadly disease despite their far greater body mass.