Back to Florida: Circus elephants to retire after May 1 shows

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The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus elephants are headed toward retirement.

May 1 is the elephants' final shows in Providence, Rhode Island and Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania. After these shows, the 11 elephants will travel back down to Florida, where they will join 29 other elephants in retirement at the circus' parent company, Feld Entertainment's, 200-acre Center for Elephant Conservation, which is located between Orlando and Tampa.

Biologists and researchers will focus on the conservation of the endangered elephants, along with the roles that they have in pediatric cancer research. 

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Mostly, though, circus officials say the elephants themselves will spend their days socializing and roaming the pastures.

Elephant acts have been showcased by Ringling for more than a century and have often been featured on its posters.

But because so many cities and counties have passed "anti-circus" and "anti-elephant" ordinances, it became difficult to organize tours of three traveling circuses to 115 cities each year, Feld Entertainment CEO Kenneth Feld said last year.

Ringling's new show will begin in July without the giant pachyderms.


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The Associated Press contributed to this report.