"In more than 40 years of current ownership, Ringling Bros. has never been found in violation of the AWA for abuse, neglect or mistreatment of its animals," Ringling says, adding, "In fact, in all aspects of animal care and safety, Ringling Bros. meets or exceeds all federal animal welfare standards."
In 2014, Feld Entertainment won $25.2 million in settlements from a number of animal rights groups, including the Humane Society of the United States, ending a 14-year legal battle over unproven allegations that Ringling circus employees mistreated elephants.
Elephants are the largest land mammals living on earth. They also have the largest brains of any land mammals, including humans, with their brains having more complex folds than all animals except whales.
What makes an elephant's brain extraordinary is that the hippocampus - the region of the brain responsible for emotion and spatial awareness - is more developed than any other animal's.
Because of that heightened intelligence and awareness, elephants show definitive emotions of grief, humor and compassion, and social skills of cooperation, self-awareness and playfulness. They are known for grieving for their dead by paying homage to the fallen, making sure that all herd members have paid respect before moving on.