Can you imagine the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus without elephants? The fight between Ringling Bros. and various animal advocacy groups, including the ASPCA, the Humane Society, and Animal Protection Institute, may be closer to a trial after six years of various lawsuits and court orders between the two sides. The animal groups claim that Ringling Bros. abuses its elephants, using sharp hooks and chairs for training, and separating babies from mother elephants, while Ringling Bros. claims their practices are, in fact, humane. The AP summarizes some of the issues, including how the U.S. Department of Agriculture (who knew that agency regulated elephants) did find that the circus failed to comply with the Animal Welfare Act, but Ringling Bros. managed to get out of being "formally classified as a violator"; on the other side, a Texas A&M professor who traveled with the circus never saw "overt cruelty."

Gothamist loves the Ringling Bros. elephants, especially when they head through the city each year, but we would much prefer the elephants be happier and safer. Our only concern is that some so-called elephants reserves in Thailand don't necessarily treat elephants that well either.