Ringling Brothers Circus elephants to retire with last show in Providence

A tradition is coming to an end this weekend. 

Elephants have been part of the Ringling Brothers Circus for 145 years. Now, the elephants are retiring after growing public concern about how the animals are treated. 

Sunday’s final show in Providence, Rhode Island, will be the end of an era. Elephants have long been a symbol of "The Greatest Show on Earth." The decision comes after animal rights activists quietly changed laws in cities and towns where the circus travels and compliance became more complicated. 

The elephants will retire to Florida, to the Ringling Brothers Center for Elephant Conservation. While the elephants won’t be wowing children anymore, they will still be playing a critical role for a special group of kids: pediatric cancer patients. 

Researchers at Huntsman Cancer Institute in Utah are now using blood from Ringling Brothers elephants to find a cure for cancer. 

"We’re really excited by this finding that elephants almost never get cancer," Dr. Joshua Schiffman, of the Huntsman Cancer Institute, said. "Now the challenge is to try to see how can we take this information and apply it to people."

The design of the circus is now changing to include skating, and outer space theme and new technology. 

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