Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus ended a 146-year run in May. Many agreed the circus ended due to protests over the use of animals.

Photo: Courtesy

Animal welfare advocates in 2017 hailed victories in campaigns to liberate captive animals, but recognized ongoing challenges to protect animals in the wild — in the U.S. and elsewhere.

WiG surveyed leaders in the animal welfare movement and found most put the closing of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus at the top of their list of triumphs in 2017. 

For years, the Ringling circus — with its employment of elephants and lions and other animals for entertainment — was targeted by protests.

The circus’s last show was May 21 at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. 

Another triumph: SeaWorld San Diego hosted its final orca “performance” in January.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, in a statement on Ringling’s end, said, “All other animal circuses, roadside zoos and wild animal exhibitors, including marine amusement parks like SeaWorld and the Miami Seaquarium, must take note: Society has changed, eyes have been opened, people know now who these animals are and we know it is wrong to capture and exploit them.

“Thank you to everyone who has picked up a protest sign, passed out leaflets, written letters, shared videos, called legislators, spoken to family and been part of this relentless pursuit of freedom for animals. This would not have happened without you.”

Meanwhile, hunters, poachers, developers and politicians continued to threaten species in the wild. 

A grim assessment of global species at risk of extinction was released in December. 

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature released its Red List of endangered species and identified 25,821 threatened species, 866 extinct species and 69 species extinct in the wild.

The report described 11,783 species as vulnerable, 8,455 as endangered and 5,583 as critically endangered.

Much of this endangerment, the report said, stems from human factors.

More Flashback 2017:

Rise and resist: The story of the year

Donald Trump turned his back on the planet

2017 saw accelerating attacks on the state’s environment



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