This past May marked the last performance of circus elephants for the Ringling Bros. Circus, which tours 115 cities yearly.
News released today say this will be the last year the circus operates.
After years of petitions and lawsuits over mistreatment of elephants, the company decided to retire their elephants in May 2016.
The last major legal settlement was for $270,000 to the US Department of Agriculture; the charges were for violations of animal welfare laws.
Despite a decline in the USA, circuses with elephant performers remain popular, especially in Asia. It is not unusual to be a tourist in India or Thailand and see amateur street performances and there are plenty of official camps where you can see elephants perform as well.
Being incredibly intelligent animals, elephants can be trained to perform many tricks for human amusement. Unlike horses or dogs, however, elephants are not domesticated. There are no domestic breeds, and elephants under human care are never truly tame.
(Photo taken at Elephant Nature Park.)