This map shows why Ringling Bros. is phasing out its elephants

This image was removed due to legal reasons.

Municipalities that have passed ordinances banning the use of exotic show animals or tools such as bullhook.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus didn’t really get a conscience.

Instead, they started to get worried about getting poor.

This morning the largest circus company in the U.S. told AP reporter Tamara Lush that it would phase out all elephants of its shows by 2018.


But it wasn’t necessarily because of public outcry over the use of bullhooks, an handling tool that animal-rights groups say is a form of torture; or the generally questionable decision to force exotic animals to perform.

"We're not reacting to our critics,” Ringling parent company president Kenneth Feld told Lush.

Instead, he said, cities and counties have begun passing what he referred to as "anti-circus" and "anti-elephant" ordinances, and the cost of fighting legislation in each jurisdiction was beginning to mount.

"All of the resources used to fight these things can be put towards the elephants," he said.


The most recent such ordinance came just a few weeks ago, when Asheville, N.C. banned its main arena from hosting exotic animals. The mayor said there seemed to be a "growing concern in Asheville about the treatment of animals in general," and that the council likely would be looking at a ban throughout the city, according to the Asheville Citizen-Times. has a running list tracking these ordinances. We’ve mapped them above — each marker is labeled with what the jurisdiction banned.


Ringling is the largest circus in the country, but it’s not the only one. UniverSoul has sued various jurisdictions that have passed laws against or rejected permits for their kinds of exhibitions — without much success.

In fact their own employees are now facing animal cruelty charges in Georgia after using a bullhook to remove an elephant from stage.


Universoul did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.

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