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Elephants have always been part of The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, ever since showman P.T. Barnum brought Jumbo, “a massive 12-foot African elephant,” to America in 1882 to star in the “Greatest Show on Earth.”
Whenever the circus came to town, parades of pachyderms heralded its arrival, drawing patriotic crowds that boosted sales and even attracted vote-hungry politicians.
Feld Entertainment, which owns the circus, still keeps 43 elephants, 13 of which are performing.