The Danish government just bought the last four remaining circus elephants in the country. Denmark paid $1.6 million to give the animals a proper retirement. This is ahead of a proposed ban on the use of all wild animals in circuses that could pass later this year.
The Danish government purchased the four elephants — Ramboline, Lara, Djunga, and Jenny — in September. Animal Protection Denmark will look after the animals for six-to-eight months until a custom space is created for them at Knuthenborg Safari Park.
Along with the four elephants, the Danish government also adopted a camel named Ali. The animal is a long-term friend of Ramboline, one of the elephants, and both lived and worked with Cirkus Trapez.
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said during a parliament meeting that once they learned of the animals’ friendship they realized it would be “wrong to separate Ramboline and Ali.” The government chose to rehome them together.
Circuses In Decline
Circuses have a long history of animal cruelty. Bull hooks and whips are used to break animals’ spirits and make them compliant with trainers. Wild animals including lions, tigers, and bears are forced to perform unnatural tricks. They often live in small, cramped cages when not performing.
Denmark’s decision to retire the elephants is in keeping with other country’s efforts to improve animal welfare. Forty countries including Greece, Peru, Mexico, El Salvador, Nederlands, Costa Rica, Iran, Slovenia, India, and Scotland, already have bans in place.
The UK’s circus ban will go into effect in 2020. In the U.S., three states have passed bans on wild animals in circuses: Hawaii, California and New Jersey.
Consumers are shifting away from circus entertainment, too. Once the most popular form of traveling shows, leading circus purveyors have mostly all closed their big tops for good.
The 146-year-old Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey — once the biggest names in circuses — closed down for good in 2017. The circus cited declining interest and lagging sales as forcing it out of business.
Governments are increasingly acknowledging the importance of animal welfare, and not just surrounding circus animals. The UK government aims to ban all trophy hunting imports, according to Queen Elizabeth II’s speech last month. Elephant leather, tusks, feet, and ears have all been previously imported and will soon be restricted by the ban.
The Queen confirmed that “for the first time, environmental principles will be enshrined in law.” This includes legislation that will “promote and protect the welfare of animals, including banning imports from trophy hunting.”