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Ringling Elephants Heading for Sunny Florida to Enjoy Early Retirement

Image: Ringling Elephants Heading for Sunny Florida to Enjoy Early Retirement
Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus' Asian elephants Asia, 43, left, Tonka, 27, and Luna, 27, are presented with soft pretzels in Philadelphia, Friday, Feb. 18, 2011. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

By    |   Tuesday, 12 Jan 2016 01:46 PM

Ringling Bros. announced Monday that its elephants will be retiring this year from the circus.

"They are going to retire like everyone does – to Florida," said Stephen Payne of parent company Feld Entertainment, ABC News reported.

"Ringling has always been evolving and this is just the next stage in the revolution of Ringling," he continued. "The circus does have another exciting addition that we will be making soon — and no, I can’t tell you what it is."

Payne said specifically that the 11 elephants currently on tour will travel to roughly 14 more cities before May, at which time they will be transferred to the company’s 200-acre Center for Elephant Conservation in central Florida.

In addition to getting some well-earned rest and relaxation, the elephants will "enjoy time in the sun and mingle with their friends," Payne said, and also take part in medical research — for instance, helping to determine why cancer is more prevalent in humans than elephants. With the upcoming addition, the number of elephants at the center will total 40, The New York Times reported.

The move comes more than a year ahead of the company's previously-announced deadline for retirement.

The circus has long received complaints that the elephants are treated cruelly, and an increasing number of cities — like Ashville, North Carolina — have placed restrictions on housing and transporting the animals within city limits.

"Rather than fight city hall, we decided to take those resources and use them for conservation of the species," Payne said in a telephone interview with The Times.

Animal rights group P.E.T.A. said there are roughly 17 traveling circuses in the country that still use elephants.

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Ringling Bros. announced Monday that its elephants will be retiring this year from the circus.
ringling, elephants, retiring, circus
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2016-46-12
Tuesday, 12 Jan 2016 01:46 PM
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