"Its an important thing for the elephants," said circus trainer Joey Frisco III, prior to one such walk in 2012. "They get to stretch their legs out a little bit after riding the train."
But it seems that that "important thing" is no longer so important.
Recently, Ringling Bros. has begun cancelling the tradition in various cities indefinitely, citing concerns that the parade-like events are too difficult to organize. Instead, the animals are being unloaded from their transport train cars and ushered into special vehicles to carry them to other enclosures where they will be housed for days prior to each performance.
"We're usually beholden to train schedules, and the elephant walk requires a lot of work and pre-planning with law enforcement, the venues and our personnel," explains circus spokesman Steve Payne to the Orange County Register.
While Ringling Bros. hasn't announced a policy to cancel the walks permanently throughout each stop of the tour, the events have been scrapped several time this year already, like in Washington D.C., Virginia, Los Angeles and an upcoming event in Anaheim, California.