Bowing out after 145 years

Elephants taking a final bow at Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus in Pennsylvania on Sunday, ending a 145-year spectacle that delighted fans but enraged animal rights activists.

Ringling finally bowed to pressure as US state and local rules placed more restrictions on the circus' use of exotic animals and the bullhook trainers use to control the animals. The move followed decades of protests by activists.

The last 11 elephants touring with "The Greatest Show on Earth" will leave behind their enormous studded tiaras and begin travelling to Ringling's 80ha Centre for Elephant Conservation in central Florida, said Mr Stephen Payne, a spokesman for the circus' parent company, Feld Entertainment.

Other wild animals continue as circus headliners, including at Ringling Bros, which tours with 28 tigers, six lions, one leopard, two kangaroos and three pythons, Mr Payne said.

At least 17 countries have outlawed circus acts featuring wild animals, but the practice remains largely legal in the US.

Hawaii is poised to be the first state to ban them, and more than a dozen municipalities have enacted their own prohibitions.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 03, 2016, with the headline 'Bowing out after 145 years'. Print Edition | Subscribe