PHOTOS: Ringling Bros to retire its elephants, ending a traditio - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

PHOTOS: Ringling Bros to retire its elephants, ending a tradition

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Feld Entertainment, says that the acts will be phased out by 2018, citing growing public concern about the animals' treatment. Feld Entertainment, says that the acts will be phased out by 2018, citing growing public concern about the animals' treatment.
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POLK CITY, Fla. -

After more than 100 years, The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is ending its iconic elephant acts.

The circus' parent company, Feld Entertainment, says that the acts will be phased out by 2018, citing growing public concern about the animals' treatment. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said the move should be made immediately if the company is serious about it. After the decision of announced on Thursday, many other animal rights groups said the pressure put on the circus over the years ultimately led to the move. 

So what will happen to the elephants? 

Feld's 43 elephants will live at the company's 200-acre Center for Elephant Conservation in central Florida. Twenty-nine animals are already there. The other 14 will arrive as they are phased out.

FAQ:

Q: How many elephants does Feld Entertainment have?

A: The company owns 43 elephants, and 29 of the giant animals already live at its 200-acre Center for Elephant Conservation in central Florida. Thirteen animals will continue to tour with the circus before retiring to the center by 2018. One elephant is on a breeding loan to the Fort Worth Zoo. The company's Asian elephant herd is the largest in North America.

Q: Why is Feld removing the elephants from the circus?

A: Executives say it's because of growing public concern about how the animals are treated. Kenneth Feld, the company's president, says the animals are not mistreated or abused. But he said that certain cities and counties have passed "anti-circus" and "anti-elephant" ordinances. The company's three shows visit 115 cities throughout the year, and Feld said it's expensive to fight legislation in each jurisdiction. It's also difficult to plan tours amid constantly changing regulations.

Q: Why do animal rights activists oppose elephants in circuses?

A: Activists say the elephant trainers and handlers use of sharp bullhooks to get the pachyderms to perform trick, along with the chaining of elephants' legs is cruel punishment. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals also claims the performing elephants suffer from arthritis and that many circus elephant mothers are separated from their calves too soon. Feld officials deny all of these claims.

Q: What will happen to the circus elephants by 2018?

A: All will be relocated to the Center for Elephant Conservation in Polk City, Fla., where they will live out their days. Feld says it costs about $65,000 a year to maintain an elephant. Initially the center will be open only to researchers, scientists and others studying the Asian elephant. Eventually, Kenneth Feld "hopes it expands to something the public will be able to see."

Q: What will Ringling replace the elephants with in the circus show?

A: Ringling will still use some animals in its shows, including camels, tigers, dogs and goats. Also, the circus is expected to draw on other Feld-owned talent. In 2008, Feld acquired a variety of motor sports properties, including monster truck shows, motocross and the International Hot Rod Association, which promotes drag races and other events. In 2010, it created a theatrical motorcycle stunt show called Nuclear Cowboyz.

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