Today is Elephant Appreciation Day


Des Moines Moms Blog is honored to partner with the Iowa Events Center. We’re thankful for all of the FUN they bring to central Iowa for our families!

1379685544357Sunday, September 22nd is Elephant Appreciation Day and Megan, the Marketing Manager from Iowa Events Center had the opportunity to visit the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation this past Friday for a tour, education and to experience all the center does for this endangered species. She was honored to have interviews with Janice Aria, Director of Animal Stewardship and Trudy Williams, Manager of Animal Stewardship as well as get up close and personal to the elephants. We’re thrilled to share a little of what she learned.

About the Center and the Elephants

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus: Just the name can send an imagination running, circus clowns with big red noses, lions with unruly manes, circus performers shimmering from head-to-toe in sequins and glitter. In the center of the circus ring tying the entire atmosphere together is none other than the great and mighty Elephant. The Elephant, in its beauty and grace, has been a symbol of the circus for years. With their larger than life demeanor and not-so-typical tricks, these eye catching creatures are a must-see for circus goers. The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus cares for the largest herd of Asian Elephants in the Western Hemisphere, housing more than 44 elephants at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation in Orlando, Florida.

20130920_100445The Center for Elephant Conservation, or CEC, was created in 1995 to provide an exclusive look into learning more about these exotic animals and to create new channels of communication focusing around animal care, conservation, and health, and to share knowledge about the Asian Elephant. With less than 35,000 alive in the world today, the Asian Elephant has become an endangered species.

That is why breeding programs similar to the CEC are vital for the future survival of this amazing species. “We are passionate about what we do,” said Janice Aria, Director of Animal Stewardship for the Center of Elephant Conservation. “If we didn’t take an active stance and care for these Asian Elephants, then we would be part of the problem.” The environment that the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation has created is ideal in the conservation, breeding, scientific study and retirement of the Asian Elephant.

Only one third of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation Elephants travel; the CEC staff, some of whom live on the grounds, care for the rest – babies, retirees and adult males. “Not all of the elephants at the Center for Elephant Conservation perform and travel with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. If they don’t want to perform, they just simply don’t do it,” said Ashley Smith, publicist for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Retired and baby elephants can lounge in the sun all day soaking up the rays, while the males do what they do best playing with tires and other large objects on the property. For those elephants that do travel with the show, travel conditions are held to the highest standards. Animal stalls, at arenas that permit, are outside and in full view of the public. The cleanliness of these living environments while traveling is routinely inspected by the United States Department of Agriculture.

20130920_102939Since the 70s elephants have not been able to be shipped out of the country. All of the elephants that perform with the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus were born and cared for at the Center for Elephant Conservation. There have been over 2 dozen births at the center and the 18th successful elephant artificial insemination birth, Barack. The staff notices different traits about each elephant and can tell you what they like and do not like. “It is based on behavior,” Smith said. “Some elephants do headstands or balance, others don’t like it, so we watch to see what repetitive traits they have then incorporate everyday objects.” Smith told stories of trainers playing football with elephants, elephants drumming to a beat, and balancing on ball. “What people see when they come to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus are natural behaviors that the staff at the CEC see daily.” Elephants that have outgrown the lime-light come back to the Center for Elephant Conservation and begin teaching younger elephants elements of respect and discipline just as a human would.

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation is truly dedicated to the health, happiness and growth of the Asian Elephant. They send out birth announcements for new baby elephant arrivals, take a genuine interest in the elephants’ likes and dislikes, and have built a beautiful haven for the “circle of life.” The passion and dedication that the entire Feld family has for the conservation of this species is visible, and with the Ringling Bros. Circus they are happy to let us partake in the experience of being within just a few feet of these majestic creatures.

On Elephant Appreciation Day, September 22, remember back to those childhood memories of the sheer splendor that comes with attending the Ringling Bros. Circus and all of the care and consideration that goes into the health and well-being of all of the animals in the show. Without the animals there would be no circus, and the reality of the matter is that without the circus and the CEC there could very well be no more Asian Elephants.

Quick Facts:

  • The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation is home to elephants: retirees, calves and their mothers, male elephants, and elephants that don’t have the temperament to enjoy the circus life. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey cares for the largest herd of Asian elephants in the Western Hemisphere with 44 elephants. Only 1/3 of the Ringling Bros. herd travels.
  • 20130920_102952(0)Asian elephants live in the forest in their native lands. At the Center for Elephant Conservation, our elephants live on pristine land planted with special treats like willow and elephant grasses.
  • The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation’s breeding program began in the mid-90s and is the most continually successful breeding program for the endangered Asian elephant in the Western Hemisphere. We’ve welcomed 26 calves.
  • Elephants are pregnant for 19 to 22 months, and calves weight 200 to 350 lbs when they are born. The biggest calf born to the CEC is Nate, born in December and weighing in at 352 lbs. His half-brother, Mike, is our newest calf and weighed 214 lbs when he was born.
  • The Center for Elephant Conservation provides a unique opportunity for researchers to study a captive elephant herd. Most recently, we’ve worked with University programs in Sri Lanka, as well as the government there on ways to lessen Human-Elephant conflict in elephants’ native lands.
  • The Asian elephant is an endangered species, with fewer than 35,000 alive in the world today. Asian elephants have been interacting and working with humans for thousands of years. More than a third of all Asian elephants today work with humans in circuses and zoos, in agriculture work such as logging, and in Eco-tourism.

Help us celebrate this appreciation day by sharing these facts with your little ones! 


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here