Public Mood Shift Leads Barnum’s Circus To Phase Out Elephants

In 1888, P.T. Barnum paraded elephants to test the strength of new Stratford Avenue bridge. Barnum is center white hair. Photo courtesy Bridgeport History Center.

Associated Press report:

Bridgeport, Conn.–the longtime home of P.T. Barnum and his circus elephants–has seen a number of protests over the years.

In 2007, a bill that would have drastically changed the way circuses control elephants failed in the Connecticut General Assembly. The proposed measure to ban the “bullhooks” prompted the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus to threaten that it would not make its annual multi-day visits to Bridgeport and Hartford if the bill passed.

Animal activists who are lobbied for the legislation said Friday that the tool hurts the hefty pachyderms and has taught animal cruelty to generations of children and teens.

For decades Barnum trained and housed his circus elephants in Bridgeport. Went Field in Bridgeport was the circus’ winter quarters until 1927 when it moved to Sarasota, Fla. For decades, many circus employees also worked in city factories. Barnum’s name still lives on in the annual festival in his name.

Full story here.

Bridgeport animal rights activist Madeline Dennis shares her take:

Connecticut animal rights protesters were stunned to hear the news today from the Ringling circus! Animal use in circuses has been banned in many countries around the world. Activists have been protesting circus animal abuse in Bridgeport since The Arena opened and the circus returned to the city in 2001. For the real story of Ringling circus abuse, not just the cute photos in the CT Post today, and the history of elephants in Bridgeport, see this article on “Will the Circus every leave town–Bridgeport Elephant Abuse” at this link: Kind of ingratiating the way Kenneth Feld of Feld Entertainment makes it seem like he is an animal conservationist when his circus has been abusing elephants since the days of PT Barnum. Good news for the elephants!


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