A fond farewell to circus elephants; then what the circus looks like now

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Susan Nance and Duncan Wall

Since the Ringling Brothers circus “came to town” in 1882, with their first elephant act, pachyderms have been a big draw under the Big Top. All that will change in 2018, when the “Greatest Show on Earth” will phase out elephant performances. Faced with local ordinances banning elephant shows and law suits by animal rights activists, the Ringling Brothers and Barnum Baily Circus made the announcement last week. Today on Radio Times we’ll explore the role elephants have played in the circus and why humans find them so entertaining. Then, how the American circus has changed over the years. Joining us are circus historians SUSAN NANCE and DUNCAN WALL.

(AP Photo/Feld Entertainment Inc.)

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