Elephants are by far some of the world's most beautiful, gentle, intelligent creatures.

It's long pained us that they're exploited for economic gain, so we breathed a sigh of relief when we heard that The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus would be ending its elephant acts forever.

That's right, folks. All of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus's elephants will retire their touring elephants in May.

The circus's parent company, Feld Entertainment, told The Associated Press that all the elephants would be permanently retired to the company's 200-acre Center for Elephant Conservation in central Florida.

Just how many elephants will be rescued from touring ails by this decision? Right now, there are 11 elephants on tour with the circus, but we're hoping this decision will positively affect many more elephants in the future.

Luckily, there are already elephants at the Center for Elephant Conservation for these elephants to play with.

"They'll be joining the rest of the herd," said Alana Feld, executive vice president of Ringling.


How big is that herd? Well... big. Feld owns the largest herd of Asian elephants in North America. She's got the 11 still touring, plus 29 that are already living in the Center for Elephant Conservation, and two on breeding loan to zoos.

Don't underestimate the strain it takes to care for even one elephant, either. Feld said it takes about $65,000 a year to care for even a single elephant, so we can only imagine the fortune it must cost to care for more than 30.

This wonderful change to end elephant exploitation was initially announced last year when Feld Entertainment announced that the elephants would be phased out and eventually retired by 2018. Once they began planning, though, they realized they could retire the elephants a lot sooner.

Yes, elephants have been a staple of circus acts for centuries, since 1882, in fact; but we'd like to point out that tradition, per usual, doesn't make it right.

Since many cities and counties in the US have pasted "anti-circus" and "anti-elephant" ordinances, it was getting increasingly difficult for Feld Entertainment to organize tours of three traveling circuses to 115 cities per year.

toughkittencrafts Hopefully soon. Comic by Andy Marlette.

Los Angeles and Oakland both outlawed the use of bull-hooks by elephant trainers and handlers last April. Asheville, North Carolina prohibited wild or exotic animals from performing in their municipally owned U.S. Cellular Center.

It turns out, though, that exploiting animals who couldn't possibly consent to performing isn't required to stage a show. Ringling's show will begin again in July without the use of elephants or other giant mammals.

Feld also said the elephants at the CEC will be part of cancer research. Elephants are much less susceptible to cancer than humans, despite having more cells.

Researchers are onto an explanation for this paradox, which they think may lie in the cancer-suppressing gene p53, of which elephants' cells contain 20 copies. 

All-in-all, we're stoked that we no longer have to live knowing elephants are being mistreated for economic gain. We're also pleased that elephants' DNA is valuable to cancer researchers, but we really hope the research is conducted in a humane way.

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[via New York Post] [Feature Image Courtesy Instagram]