Feld Entertainment, the company that owns Ringling, hopes to turn the park into a facility that people can visit, where the elephants are breeding but have a large tract of land on which to roam. Kenneth Feld, the company's president, told the AP that the center will be open to researchers and he "hopes it expands to something the public will be able to see."
"I want everybody's grandkids to be able to see Asian elephants," he said.
Feld Entertainment did not respond to The Dodo's request for comment.
Not all sanctuaries use bullhooks to control their elephants, and many animal advocates hope that Ringling will phase them out, too. At the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, the country's largest natural habitat refuge for elephants, a technique called "protected contact" is used to control the animals while allowing them to make decisions on their own. There is always a barrier between caretakers and elephants.
"I don't think that using bullhooks should be an option," Margaret Whittaker, the sanctuary's director of elephant care, told The Dodo. "Everybody should be doing protected contact."