Local Activists Protest Ringling Bros. Elephant Use

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is ending its iconic elephant acts. The circus' parent company, Feld Entertainment, told the AP exclusively that the acts will be phased out by 2018 over growing public concern about the animals. | AP Photo

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Local protesters held demonstration ahead of the Ringling Brothers Circus debut night here in the river city. Activists are calling for the immediate retirement of elephants used in acts.

The group Richmond Friends of Animals say they’re happy Ringling will phase out elephants by 2018, but they believe three years is too long to wait. Tonight they lined up on the streets outside the Coliseum in downtown Richmond, calling for immediate retirement of not only elephants, but all animals used in the circus’ acts.

Protesters dressed up as chained elephants and tigers to bring attention to the fact that Ringling uses bull hooks, whips and electric prods on animals, which they consider violent.

Ringling Brothers announced last week that it would phase out its last 13 performing elephants by 2018 — but these protesters say it can’t come soon enough.

The first circus performance begins at 7 p.m. and several other shows will be held throughout the week.

It’s not clear if Richmond Friends of Animals plans to protest before every show or just tonight’s.

Stay tuned to 8News for more on this developing story.

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