"There's been somewhat of a mood shift among our consumers. A lot of people aren't comfortable with us touring with our elephants."
That discomfort is well-founded. Ringling Bros.' treatment of elephants has been the subject of growing controversy in recent years, particularly for the cruel way in which the animals are coerced into performing under fear of punishment.
Circus handlers regularly use sharpened metal instruments, called bullhooks, to control elephants' behavior, prodding them to act in unnatural ways as a form of entertainment. Bullhooks are widely seen as inhumane, and a growing number of municipalities in the U.S., including Los Angeles, have banned their use - effectively ending the possibility that elephant shows could take place.
The Dodo's request for comment from Feld Entertainment, regarding whether the company acknowledges that concerns over its elephants' welfare are warranted, was not immediately returned.
Ringling's move to end the exploitation of elephants comes as welcome news for animal welfare groups who have been working toward this change for decades.