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By: Michelle R. Smith

Elephants Perform for Final Time at Ringling Bros.

ABC News


Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus bid farewell to its performing elephants on Sunday, as the show closed its own chapter on a practice that has entertained audiences in America for two centuries but has come under fire by animal rights activists.

"This is a very emotional time for us," Ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson told the crowd as the performance came to an end in Providence, Rhode Island, on Sunday.

He called the six Asian elephants beloved members of the circus family and thanked the animals for more than 100 years of service.

"We love our girls. Thank you so much for so many years of joy," he said as the elephants left the ring for a final time. "That's history tonight there, ladies and gentlemen, true American icons."

Earlier, the crowd watched as the elephants performed an act that had them dancing, balancing on each others' backs, sitting on their hind legs and pretending to sleep.

"We came to say farewell to the elephants," said Sheila Oliver, of East Providence, who brought her 4-year-old daughter, Lilliana. "This is her first circus and, unfortunately, it's their last one."

Five elephants also performed earlier Sunday in a Ringling Bros. show in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania.

Read more: http://bigstory.ap.org/article/540c09168b7a4e5b9768133a1d8ef5f9/elephants-perform-final-time-ringling-bros-circus

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