While the early retirement might sound like wholly welcome news, Cathy Liss of the Animal Welfare Institute is dubious about what might be awaiting the elephants. She notes that the CEC is a place where elephants have been confined in chains on concrete floors and subjected to the use of bullhooks and electric prods.
"We anticipate that the elephants, instead of enjoying retirement in a true sanctuary, will experience other forms of commercial exploitation."
Ringling's treatment of elephants in retirement stands in contrast to other facilities, like the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, where animals are generally left to exist free of unnecessary human contact. The sanctuary's director of elephant care, Margaret Whittaker, told The Dodo in an earlier post that her facility would be willing to give Ringling's elephants the life of peace that they truly deserve.
"We stand ready to help ... ready to receive any elephants," she said. "Our doors are open."