Backstage with Ringling Bros. Circus Elephants

When I posted about going to see the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents LEGENDS show, I received an email saying how mistreated the animals are.

I also saw online friends posting on social networks that they would never go to the circus (for various reasons). I was surprised by these reactions, but I really shouldn't have been.


Note: I was invited as media to this event. No other compensation was received. Any personal views expressed are always 100% my own.

For years now there's been tension between the circus and animal rights advocates. Can I say who's right or wrong? No. I can only share with you what I learned and saw for myself during a backstage tour.

Backstage with Ringling Bros Circus Elephants

During the tour I was invited to ask questions and take a look at the animals myself. I met with one of the trainers, one of the veterinarians and a group of Ringling elephants.

I learned about the elephants personalities. This group is all females of various ages. They like to play games and can be creative with their "toys". One elephant put a log in a tire, which now travels with them.

I learned how the elephants are trained. The elephants acts are based off natural moments and actions the animals do in the wild. They start their training when they mature but baby elephants tend to emulate and follow what their mothers do. So ironically they learn tricks way before their actual training starts.

Backstage with Ringling Bros Circus Elephants

the famous log in the tire "toy"

Then I asked about the animal cruelty allegations....

The trainer explained that a staff of animal and medical experts travel with the circus and provide the nutritional, medical and emotional needs of the animals, especially the elephants.

But this is not just based on the words of Ringling Bros. It's supported by the tons of paperwork and regulations that the circus have to stay in compliance with. For every state that Ringling Bros. performs in, they have to adhere to the laws for animal safety.

So why still all the issues?

Various reasons but one of the main ones is that some animal rights groups don't want animals in the circus. Period. But the flip side of the coin is that many animals can't survive in the wild anymore due to loss of habitat, natural disasters and animal poaching.

The Asian elephant, which are types in Ringling Bros shows, has been on the endangered species list for 32 years!

Backstage with Ringling Bros Circus Elephants

To help safeguard these animals, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation was established in 1995. Located in central Florida, this state-of-the-art facility is dedicated to the conservation, breeding and understanding of these amazing animals.

At the Elephant Conservation, there has been successful breeding and birthing of Asian elephant, which insure they will continue to be around to amaze the next generations of families both inside and outside the circus.

I'm thankful that Ringling Bros. allowed me this opportunity to learn for myself about the lives of their amazing Elephants.

To learn more about visit Ringling Bros Animal Care FAQ

To learn more Ringling Bros. Elephant Conservation, visit - www.elephantcenter.com



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29 comments:

  1. That is SUCH a cool experience and I am totally jealous of you guys. I will have to look and see if they are coming to Boston soon. I would love to take my guys to the circus. They've never been!!

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  2. Awwww I love the circus!!! I went in Chicago when I was a kid. This post makes me want to take my kids!!

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  3. I have not been to the circus in a while but to go back stage I know that was such a cool experience.

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  4. My kids are getting older but I have such fond memories of taking them to the Circus when they were small. I miss those fun family activitites.

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  5. the circus- this one ,specifically, always comes to Hartford around my birthday. which is why I grew up thinking they came FOR my birthday!

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  6. I would love to go backstage to see the elephants. What a fun experience. I so need to take my kids to one of these shows, it's on my to do list!

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  7. We are heading to the circus next week in Cincinnati - I've had a lot of friends make comments about how bad they are treated, but they've had some of the same animals for years - I can't imagine them surviving if they were really treated the way some say... one can ruin it for everyone though I guess.
    Thanks for sharing what you experienced!

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  8. My personal opinion, that maybe at one point they weren't treating the animals nicely, and that's where the stigma comes from. I honestly think they are much better with the animals now. I can't imagine them treating them any differently than a zoo, and I'm sure "those people" go there. We love the circus!

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  9. That is so interesting! I remember when we went to the circus there were so many protesters with flyers.

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  10. Thank you for this post. I too have posted on our visit to see the circus as well as the conservatories that Ringling has procured to save animals and the precautions they take as well. I know others may feel differently, but what about teaching dogs to shake hands, they weren't always domesticated. Maybe I don't get it, but I think people's definitions of cruelty are varying.

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  11. Interesting post. I remember seeing protesters outside at my last visit to the circus. It seems like Ringling Bros are committed to taking care of their animals.

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  12. I haven't been to a circus in a long time. I have always loved seeing the elephants when I went.

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  13. The circus is such a cool experience. Everyone should go at least once!

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  14. I really love seeing elephants up close! I've always wanted to take an African Safari so that I can see them in their wild habitat!

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  15. Ringling Brothers is the only circus we'll take the kids to! We swear by them - so much fun!!

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  16. How nice that you got to go behind the scenes a bit. It's nice that you shared the experience. I think it would be great to get that kind of tour.

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  17. It seems like they're really making a commitment to treat the animals right these days. The elephants are the coolest!

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  18. I had no idea that there was an Elephant Conservation center here in Central Florida. I can see both sides of the circus debate and really not taken the time to research it to have a solid opinion.

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  19. What a cool experience to get so close to elephants and learn so much about them! I haven't been to the circus since my girls were little since it's so expensive.

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  20. I took my family to see the circus when it was in our area of the country. My children and I thoroughly enjoyed the show. We did not get an up close and personal with the elephants like you. That was cool.

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  21. Thanks for sharing this information. I have heard so many horror stories about the circus too which makes me sad because it always gave me such joy as a kid. I appreciate you asking some direct questions!

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  22. elephants are so cool! I bet you had fun being backstage with them!

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  23. I think I would pee my pants if I ever really saw an elephant in person! I know they're big but I really don't think I've ever really grasped just HOW big they really are. Geeze.....I said really 3 times in once sentence!

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  24. I'm glad they invited you "behind the scenes" to see how the animals are cared for and treated when they are not in the ring. We enjoy the circus (we're seeing this one next week) so much and the elephants and tigers are such a big part of the experience of the event! I would hate to see them go and am thrilled they are taken care of.

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  25. How fun was that!! I really have got to take my kids to the circus!!!

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  26. Oh the elephants are so cute. I just want to hug them

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  27. What a neat experience! We went to a Ringling Bros. in Atlanta last month, but thankfully I dodged any backlash about it. It's interesting to learn more about how the elephants are raised and trained.

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  28. What an awesome outing... I haven't been to the circus in ages but this is such fun to read.

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  29. I have often visited animal and human friends backstage and at various points on the circus tour. I know firsthand that the circus animals are well cared for. I wish I had their health care plan.

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