It’s an unlikely place for a circus, but it may be the only way to give these elephants their own happy ending.
For years now, Ringling Bros. has been slowly moving its traveling shows away from animal acts like this one in favor of more human-only productions with stunts and daring feats that are all performed by people without any animals involved at all! But when they announced last year that 2018 would be the final season where we could go see them—and even then they were talking about just 50 performances on 46 days before going out into retirement–it seemed so sudden after over 100 years since what was originally founded as The Greatest Show On Earth first opened up shop back in 1884.”
The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is sending 35 Asian pachyderms to its Florida reserve, where the elephants will be able to explore their favorite habitats in 2500 acres of land – wetland, grasslands or forest!, as well as graze on 11 different water holes!
In the great state of Florida, there is a refuge for old and retired elephants. Once they are all out to pasture in their new home in Yulee, this will be the largest herd of these gentle giants on Earth’s Western Hemisphere.
The 4-square mile refuge is the best scenario for these elephants because they’ve been raised in captivity and are not equipped to survive on their own out there. The philanthropists who have donated so much money, Mark and Kimbra Walter, want them to be able to wander free without any worry of being hunted by poachers or having a lack of food. They hope that this will help encourage other people with more resources than TWF – like governments around the world –to donate funds as well.
“It is a chance for us to let them return to just being elephants in a situation that is as close to the wild as we can make,” TWF’s Michelle Gadd explained in an interview with National Geographic.
After a period spent catching up, the first group of elephants was transported in pairs for 200 miles to their new home. They were finally welcomed by friends and family at the Ringling Center for Elephant Conservation (CEC).
“Watching the elephants go out into the habitat was an incredible moment,” said White Oaks’ elephant care lead Nick Newby. “I was so happy to see them come out together and reassure and comfort each other, just like wild elephants do, and then head out to explore their new environment. Seeing the elephants swim for the first time was amazing.”
“Elephants are such amazing creatures, and we are pleased to give them a place where they will flourish,” added Gadd, who oversees the Walters’ conservation efforts.
“We are excited to watch them adapt to the great outdoors, tasting new plants, exploring new areas, experiencing new things.”
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