Norway’s popular Circus Arnardo, which travels around the country during the circus season, has decided to drop elephants from its performances. Circus officials claim the elephants literally demand too much space, while animal rights activists have campaigned against the use of circus elephants for years.
“Elephants don’t belong in a circus,” Siri Martinsen of the animal rights group NOAH, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) on Monday. She was glad Circus Arnardo was dropping the use of elephants even though Norwegian officials haven’t barred them from performances.
“The fact that Norwegian politicians still haven’t taken this seriously is a shame,” Martinsen said.
Are Arnardo of the family-run circus cited more congestion in Norwegian cities and a lack of space to house or exercise the elephants. “Animals and animal welfare are import for us,” he said. “It’s because we don’t have enough room for them anymore that we decided to retire the elephants after last season.”
He denied the decision was a result of pressure from the animal rights groups. “No, our elephants have been treated well,” he told NRK.
Martinsen said she hopes the “retirement” of the elephants is the first step away from more use of animals in the circus. “We completely agree that elephants need more room than a circus can provide, but so do horses, llamas, camels and other animals,” she told NRK.
Arnardo said there were no plans to reduce the use of other animals, and that an increase in animal performances actually contributed to squeezing out the elephants. The circus’ elephants are either being placed in zoos or with other circus companies. This year’s Circus Arnardo season begins in Arendal on March 15.