Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus announced last year that they would phase out the use of elephants in their acts much to the delight animal welfare activists everywhere. The decision, which was fueled by public demand, was expedited from a tentative 2018 date to 2016 and now, the elephants are on their way to retirement.

While there are several reasons to celebrate the ending of this 145-year-old tradition, there are still concerns over how post-retirement will really be for these creatures. The elephants, who performed for the last time on Sunday, will not be transferred to a sanctuary like many animal activists may have initially assumed. Instead, the elephants will be transitioned to “permanent retirement” at the 200-acre Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida, also owned by Ringling Brothers.

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If you find it somewhat odd that the very group that abused these animals for over a century are retaining custody of these creatures, you wouldn’t be alone. Critics who applaud the company’s decision to end the cruel confinement are not pleased with the elephant’s final destination. And they have good reason, Ringling Brothers plan to use the elephants as a part of human cancer research. Although no information has been released yet on what role they will play in the research. That doesn’t sound like much of a retirement to us…

While we’re definitely seeing a shift in public opinion on animal captivity, there is still work to be done. If the Ringling follows through with their current plan they are simply trading in one evil for another. Animals, do not exist on this planet to entertain us OR serve as lab animals to test our medicines. They deserve to live peacefully in nature, unencumbered, and only when this is realized will we truly be able to call this phase out a victory. The reality is that as more people learn about the cruelty involved in using wild animals for entertainment, they are actively standing up against it. We can all help other elephants reach retirement – hopefully in a reputable sanctuary – by refusing to attend any attraction that exploits animals for profits. When we stop paying for abuse it will end – are you ready to get started?

Image Source: USAToday