Denmark Buys Nation’s Last 4 Circus Elephants to Help Them Retire Early

October 28, 2019 Updated: October 28, 2019

Denmark has joined the ranks of other countries implementing efforts towards banning the use of wild animals in circuses. In an unexpected move, the Danish government decided to pay $1.6 million to purchase the last remaining circus elephants so the animals can enjoy their retirement.

According to an AP News report, the country had four elephants still living and performing in circuses. Ramboline, Lara, Djunga, and Jenny were bought by the government in September 2019 as a first step towards altogether banning the use of wild animals in circuses later in the year.

The elephant show of James Puydebois during the premiere of “Tierisch gut” at Circus Krone on Dec. 25, 2016, in Munich, Germany. (©Getty Images | Hannes Magerstaedt)

One of the elephants, Ramboline, lived at Cirkus Trapez, where it had a long-term friendship with a camel named Ali. Extraordinarily, the Danish authorities, upon learning about it, decided to also purchase the camel. “We received important information that it would be wrong to separate Ramboline and Ali. That’s why we actually got Ali,” said Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen during a parliament meeting, per Home World News.  

Meanwhile, the other three mammals belonged to Circus Arena, where Benny Berdino, the manager, said he was “sad to say goodbye” to them, per AP News. However, he did express joy in knowing that the elephants would be happy in their retirement.

The four were placed under the care of Animal Protection Denmark while searching for a suitable location where they could live out their remaining years. “The elephants will be sent to the establishment that can offer them the highest level of well-being,” the ministry explained, per Jakarta post.

Local firefighters spray water to cool down elephants of the Arene circus due to high temperatures on Aug. 2, 2018, in Gilleleje, Denmark. (©Getty Images | MADS CLAUS RASMUSSEN/AFP)

It didn’t take long to find the four retired circus stars a new home. According to Animal Protection Denmark, the mammals are to remain under their care for around six to eight months until a special elephant space is built for them at the Knuthenborg Safari Park, located in the southeast of Denmark.

In May 2019, the British government banned the use of wild animals in traveling circuses. “Travelling circuses are no place for wild animals in the 21st century, and I am pleased that this legislation will put an end to this practice for good,” said Environment Secretary Michael Gove, per the Government Website.

Illustration – Shutterstock | Oriol Querol

Similarly, a Federal Circus Bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill, if passed, will prohibit traveling circuses from using exotic and wild animals in their shows.

A further effort to protect the species was decided in August 2019 at a global conference called the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). It was during that meeting that 87 countries voted to ban the trade of taking baby elephants from the wild and selling them to circuses and zoos, BBC News reports.

Jana Mandana and James Puydebois perform the elephants during the Circus Krone ‘Celebration’ Premiere on April 7, 2011, in Munich, Germany. (©Getty Images | Hannes Magerstaedt)

However, the lack of live exotic creatures in shows doesn’t necessarily mean less entertainment for the audience. That’s what a circus in Germany showed in June 2019, when they became the first in the world to use animal holograms as part of their shows, BBC Reports.

Elephants are said to be highly sensitive and intelligent mammals. The year 2019 indeed seems to mark more countries moving towards ending cruelty for the sake of entertainment and protecting such wild creatures.