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Ringling to retire elephants early; protests still planned

in Apolitical/Top Headlines by

Animal rights groups have scored a major victory against the Greatest Show On Earth, but that isn’t stopping the protests.

The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, America’s best-known circus, announced Monday it will relocate all its elephants to a conservation center here in Florida by the end of May. That pushes up the retirement date for circus pachyderms by more than a year.

The Ringling announcement comes after years of protests from animal rights organizations who’ve long accused the circus of mistreating the elephants (a charge circus management denies).

Parent company Feld Entertainment had originally said that the elephants, a centerpiece of the 145-year-old traveling show, would not be gone by 2018.

The announcement isn’t satisfying groups such as People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals or PETA.

“It’s not all sunshine and roses for the ‘retired’ elephants,” PETA said in a statement.

“At Ringling’s grandiosely named Center for Elephant Conservation elephants will no doubt still be chained on a daily basis, be forced to breed, be deprived of opportunities to interact and socialize normally, and continue to live in fear of being hit with bullhooks,” the statement said.

“The big question is where are the elephants going and how are they going to be treated. Ringling made its money off the back of animals so I can’t see that changing,” said Adam Sugalski, the creative director of Compassion Works International, a First Coast group dedicated to ending animal cruelty.

Sugalski and others will be protesting Ringling on January 21st when the circus visits Jacksonville.

Meanwhile, Republican front-runner Donald Trump even weighed in about the big elephant announcement:

Of course, some GOP strategists (Rick Wilson, anyone?) might say Trump is retiring the elephant that is traditional conservatism, but that’s another story.

In addition to her work writing for Florida Politics, Melissa Ross also hosts and produces WJCT’s First Coast Connect, the Jacksonville NPR/PBS station’s flagship local call-in public affairs radio program. The show has won four national awards from Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI). First Coast Connect was also recognized in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014 as Best Local Radio Show by Folio Weekly’s “Best Of Jax” Readers Poll and Melissa has also been recognized as Folio Weekly’s Best Local Radio Personality. As executive producer of The 904: Shadow on the Sunshine State, Melissa and WJCT received an Emmy in the “Documentary” category at the 2011 Suncoast Emmy Awards. The 904 examined Jacksonville’s status as Florida’s murder capital. During her years in broadcast television, Melissa picked up three additional Emmys for news and feature reporting. Melissa came to WJCT in 2009 with 20 years of experience in broadcasting, including stints in Cincinnati, Chicago, Orlando and Jacksonville. Married with two children, Melissa is a graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism/Communications. She can be reached at m.ross66211@gmail.com.

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