Circus-goers saddened by final year for elephant acts

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Cheers were heard outside the Charleston Civic Center as a crowd of fans welcomed circus elephants Thursday afternoon, but some circus-goers are sad to see them go.

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced earlier this year they will gradually remove the elephant acts from its show by 2018 due to a public concern about animal treatment.

Carrie Shanblin of Elkview said her and her 3-year-old daughter are upset this is the last year they will see the elephants.

“I’m sad. I think the elephants make the circus and I don’t think it’ll be the same without them,” said Shanblin.

Beverly Stevens of Charleston said her family wish the elephants would come back next year, but she still supports the circus’ decision.

“If it’s better for them, that’s what we want,” said Stevens.

The three elephants, several clowns, and other circus characters entertained the crowd on Clendenin Street in downtown Charleston. A long table with fruit and vegetables was set up for the elephants to eat, following their arrival.

“It was fun seeing them smash the watermelons!” Stevens said.

Shanblin said they attend the circus every year. She said being with her daughter makes it worth it.

“It’s mainly the smile on her face. She pretty much loved it,” said Shanblin.

Shanblin said as long as the clowns stay in the circus, they are satisfied.

According to Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s website, nine shows are scheduled from Thursday to Sunday at the Civic Center.