People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is still butting heads with Ringling Bros. even though it’s been over a year since the circus closed its big top.
PETA is claiming that a Polk City elephant conservation center is closing down in the near future. The Center for Elephant Conservation is run by Feld Entertainment, which owns Ringling Bros.
PETA alleges that the elephants in captivity there are chained to concrete during the evenings and don’t have adequate room to roam around. Officials with PETA said that rising costs are contributing to the eventual closure of the center.
Rachel Mathews is the Foundation Associate Director of Captive Animal Law Enforcement for PETA. She said that zoological insiders and sources within the circus community have said the alleged closing has been in the works for a while now.
Mathews said that a different, bigger sanctuary could be able to accept the elephants should they become displaced. The White Oak Conservation Center, just 30 miles north of Jacksonville in Yulee, is one such potential place.
“This would mean that the elephants would be managed in protected contact, where there’s always a protective barrier between keepers and elephants,” Mathews said. New facilities would need to be built to accommodate the elephants.
“Obviously, White Oak would have to put in the infrastructure to actually have elephants, and that will take some time,” Mathews said. “And so the elephants who would be moved out of the CEC, it wouldn't be for a couple of years.”
The conservation center currently has 39 elephants that would need to be moved should PETA’s sources be correct.
A Feld Entertainment spokesperson said in a statement that the center “is still operating, and elephants are being cared for there.” The group is not offering any additional comment.