Ringling Bros. elephants retire in Polk City

Posted at 4:32 PM, May 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-06 19:59:43-04
Eleven elephant performers were welcomed to their new home at the Ringling Bros. Elephant Conservation Center in Polk City on Friday.
The event started with a brunch.  
The elephants lined up in front of cameras while treated to apples, carrots, and other elephant goodies.  
The more than 100 year old tradition of using the elephants in the circus was stopped by Ringling earlier this week.
"It's a resort life and a retirement life so we are going to have to play into that, like people when they retire they have to find a new hobby, a new lifestyle, we are going to have to watch them closely to make sure they don't get too resort like and that we exercise them and give them the proper nutrition," said Dr. Wendy Kiso.  
About forty elephants now live on the 200-acre facility in rural Polk County.  Some animal rights groups disagree with the animals being at the facility.  
Ringling executives said the facility is the best place for the animals.
"We are dedicated to their care and conservation, we have made a lifetime commitment to these animals," said spokesperson Stephen Payne.
The elephants will be used for conservation and research.  Scientist would like to study the animals to figure out why cancer doesn't impact them the way it does humans.
"The study that we are providing is looking at the blood in the lab to see the function that and to hopeful find a clue to create a magic pill so to speak against cancer," said Kiso.
Ringling will continue using other animals in its shows.