Is the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation (CEC) open to the public?
No, the Center was created for the retirement, reproduction and study of the endangered Asian Elephant. Although many scientists, veterinarians and students regularly visit as part of the Center’s educational programs, the Center is not equipped for public tours.
The CEC participates in a Skype in the Classroom activity in affiliation with Microsoft, using an online informational session with an actual elephant live streamed into classrooms all over the world. How can people sign up for this?
Learn more. We try to honor as many requests as we can but we are somewhat limited by time of day and availability of certain elephants within range of the internet. We have actually held Skype sessions with schools in India, Croatia, Puerto Rico and many states in the US. It’s a great way to offer a fun activity to our elephants (they get lots of treats) and share with students our knowledge of these incredible animals.
Where is the CEC located?
The Center is in the Green Swamp area of Central Florida between Tampa and Orlando.
How much land does the CEC have?
The Center is on 200 acres of farm land.
How long has the CEC existed?
The CEC was founded in 1995. We celebrated our 20th anniversary in July, 2015.
Since Ringling Bros. Circus no longer includes elephants, why is the CEC still involved in reproduction?
The Asian elephant is endangered, with less than 35,000 elephants in the range countries. There are fewer than 280 Asian elephants in the United
States. It is extremely difficult to import Asian elephants into the US as they fall under the regulations of the CITES treaty (Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna). Only about one-third of the elephants born at the CEC actually went on to perform with the circus. So far a total of 26 calves have been born at the Center and each one of them is considered a priceless contribution to the fight against extinction. Ringling Bros. has every intention of remaining a leader in the battle to keep Asian elephants thriving in the United States.
Why does the CEC have only Asian elephants?
Asian elephants have been listed as “endangered” since the mid-1970s. At that time Ringling Bros. decided to devote all their resources to the future of this species. The African elephant is listed as “threatened”. Although African elephants are continually poached for their ivory, there is one Asian to every ten African elephants, so the Asian elephant is in a far more critical situation.
What is the main threat to the Asian elephant in its range land?
Only male Asian elephants have prominent tusks, if they have them at all, so poaching is not the same threat to Asian elephants as it is to African elephants. Since populations have exploded in the Asian countries it is the human elephant conflict and habitat loss that poses the biggest threat to Asian elephants.
Asian elephants come from developing countries with widespread poverty. The people and the elephants compete for the same resources – land, food and water, and inevitably the elephants lose out.
Since the Center has CONSERVATION in its name, how does it actually contribute to conservation of elephants in the range countries?
For many years the CEC has provided support and expertise particularly with the small island of Sri Lanka, off the southeastern tip of India.
This small country, about the size of the state of West Virginia, has 22 million people and close to 6,000 elephants. Sadly each year some 150 elephants are killed for destroying crops and housing. The CEC hosted a group of Sri Lankan graduate students for one full year, teaching them our elephant management practices to take back to their country, as an alternative to killing the elephants.
Ringling Bros.’ Conservation Team visits Sri Lanka several times a year to evaluate needs and dispense the substantial financial resources provided by Ringling Bros. One special project involves ongoing support to the Elephant Transit Home, an orphanage for some 40 calves who are fed around the clock, with plans of being released into a national elephant preserve.
Ringling Bros. also provided the materials and expertise to surround a small village with solar powered electric fencing to deter elephants from destroying their village. This fence has enabled the children to attend school and the people to gather socially for the first time in their history.
More importantly, it has saved many elephants from being shot.
How are former circus elephants instrumental in conservation efforts and ongoing study of the species?
Because elephants trained at the CEC are accustomed to people since birth and are trained in a free contact management system, so much scientific knowledge is gained from the relationship and hands on care our staff has with the elephants.