For the first time in 50 years, the Ringling Bros.and Barnum & Bailey Circus has modified a touring unit, and one of the biggest changes is its elimination of an act featuring tigers. The company denies they were removed as a concession to campaigns to end the use of exotic animals in entertainment—and we know better than to believe it was done out of concern for the animals themselves. Instead, Ringling reports its action was an effort to appeal more to its core audience, which consists mainly of women and children. Ironically, it is because of this target demographic that the company hired female tiger trainer Sara Houcke in 2000.
And what about the elephants? Ringling unfortunately has no plans to remove them from its shows and claims they are its largest attraction.At the same time, the elephants are again plagued by tuberculosis. A male housed at a Ringling facility in Florida tested positive in September. He joins another elephant already under quarantine.
In related news, our lawsuit with other animal advocacy groups against Ringling for its mistreatment of Asian elephants remains in the discovery phase, with an expected trial date sometime late next year. In the meantime, we are confident that the trend toward circus entertainment without animals, as popularized by performing groups such as the magnificent Cirque du Soleil, is increasing. Clearly, money can be made by providing entertainment for audiences without forcing wild animals to perform unnatural acts.
Archival document; for complete account, please see http://awionline.org/cases/protection-asian-elephants.