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Victory! Ringling Brothers Circus Closes, But What Happens To The Animals?

posted in: Vegan News 1
Photo Credit: The Washington Post

So, I think all of us in the vegan community have been cheering since we first heard that at long last Ringling Brothers Circus is shutting down.  I know we’ve all been waiting for this moment, and it’s undoubtedly a huge, positive step forward!  First it was the elephants, we got them the freedom and retirement they deserved.  Now it’s time to let all of the other animals (lions, tigers and bears! oh my!) get the rest and relaxation they need.

The show’s famous elephants are already retired, now living out their days on the company’s conservation center in Florida. Some acts, like the dogs and the lions, are owned by their handlers and will remain with them. But the kangaroos, horses, camels, tigers and others belong to Feld Entertainment, the producer of Ringling, which has said it will find them suitable homes. Stephen Payne, a spokesman, said in an interview this week that those locations have not yet been chosen, but that wherever the creatures land will “have to meet our high animal care standards.” Via washingtonpost.com

This all sounds good, right?  Well, for the most part it is.  Really, really good.  But, the devil lies in the details as it so often does.  In the end it’s all better this way.  But, now we have to face the short term consequences, and lets be real, there ARE consequences.  Essentially, these animals are going to be homeless soon.  It isn’t like you can shove massive carnivores with highly specialized needs into an everyday farm or sanctuary.

Their options include zoos and private owners, but former circus animals often end up at the animal sanctuaries that dot the nation, which vary widely in quality. Those might not have much trouble taking in horses or kangaroos, but tigers, bears and other large carnivores are another matter. Failed roadside zoos and refuges, abandoned exotic pets and crackdowns on circuses have created a swelling menagerie of wild animals that need homes — homes with lots of land, lots of food and proper enclosures. Payne said Feld owns about 18 tigers, which will likely join a steady stream of big cats in search of shelter. Via washingtonpost.com

What this breaks down to is that these large carnivores, such as the big cats and bears, are very hard to place.  With sanctuaries filling up around the country and only a few able to take in big cats I think you guys can see the problem we’re going to encounter.  Especially since we really don’t want these lovely animals to end up just anywhere.  They’ve had a long, hard career and it’s time for them to get some real rest.

Now, we have people out there doing their best to help find homes for everyone, so we can take serious heart in that.

“We will do anything we can do to help them place their tigers, I’ll say that right now,” said Ed Stewart, the president of the California-based Performing Animal Welfare Society, or PAWS, a longtime Ringling adversary that this month took in eight tigers from a failed sanctuary in Colorado. “But it’s not going to be easy, because all legitimate sanctuaries are full of tigers right now.” Via washingtonpost.com

But, as you can see even the professionals are having to admit this is going to be a long journey.  I don’t know how to fix this situation, so I’m not going to pretend like I have any answers.  But we made this happen, we can’t turn our backs on the animals.  This is as important, if not more so, then getting the circus to close.  I would like to start a conversation though, on ways you guys think that we can help.

So, start talking in the comments below or strike up a conversation on social media, tag us so that we can see and chime in!  I’d love to see what creative ways our community of Banana’s can help.

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  1. Mary Carroll
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    I have been worrying about this very issue for quite some time. I had actually read somewhere (sorry, I don’t remember where) that the Ringling Elephants Sanctuary in Florida was a terrible place and that some of the elephants are wearing chains and are kept in concrete cells. Do you have any information on this? I support the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee and reading about this has left me feeling devastated.

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