Success: Circus Commits to Eliminating Cruel Elephant Acts

elephant acts

Target: Kenneth Jeffrey Feld, President of Feld Entertainment

Goal: Praise the company, which owns Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, for committing to eliminate its elephant acts

The elephants in Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus face regular electric shocks and whippings as part of their training. On the road between cities the animals can be confined to cramped train cars for days on end. Such cruelty is clearly unacceptable. After more than a century of torment the circus has finally committed to abandoning its use of elephants.

A year-long investigation by Mother Jones helped expose the brutality of the circus’ treatment of the animals in its care. A successful ForceChange petition that received thousands of signatures demonstrates the intense public criticism of elephant acts.

The use of performing animals in circuses has been the subject of protest for decades. The nation of India has even moved to ban elephants’ confinement in zoos, in part because of their incredible intelligence. Feld Entertainment, which owns Ringling Bros., also faced local laws forbidding the use of cruel bullhooks. Together these factors pushed the company to reform. “This decision was not easy,” said President Kenneth Feld in a recent statement, “but it is in the best interest of our company, our elephants and our customers.”

This success is indeed worth celebrating, although Feld Entertainment has given itself until 2018 to end its use of elephants. Applaud the company for heeding public pressure–and urge Feld to eliminate elephant acts immediately.


Dear Mr. Feld,

For decades Feld Entertainment has engaged in the use of horrific training practices to force performing elephants to comply. Mother Jones‘ explosive investigation described a “sweet-natured but clumsy” elephant named after your own daughter being whipped mercilessly as just one example. To make matters worse, the company spent millions trying to hide the abuse from the public.

At long last you and your colleagues have decided to end the use of elephant acts as a part of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, and for this you have my deepest and most sincere thanks. These beautiful elephants will be able to live out their natural lives at the company’s conservation area in Florida. Surely they have earned this rest after experiencing years of abuse.

I applaud your commitment to ending the use of elephants in your circus, and urge you to do so immediately.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: AlejandroLinaresGarcia via Wikimedia Commons

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235 Signatures

  • Jessica Claudio
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