Five elephants from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey circus took a final walk through the streets of downtown Baltimore on Wednesday to bid farewell to their fans before heading off to retirement May 1.
Hundreds of people lined the streets downtown and took out their cell phone cameras as Tonka, Luna, Mabel, April and Asia left the Royal Farms Arena, where the circus is performing, and headed to Lexington Market for one last lunch.
Circus representatives have announced that their elephants will not be traveling as part of the circus after May 1 and will be retiring in a Florida sanctuary, the Center for Elephant Conservation.
“It’s the end of an era,” said Donna Beth Joy Shapiro, an Inner Harbor resident who greeted the elephants at the Arena and followed them to Lexington Market and back. “I’m very sad they’re not going to do this again. “
Escorted by a police motorcade, the five elephants moved at a brisk clip from Hopkins Place to Fayette Street to Eutaw and then to the parking lot of Lexington Market, where they dined on fruit, watermelons and other treats.
A few representatives from PETA – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals – waved placards on the edge of the parking lot, but the crowd was mostly receptive to the out of town visitors. Many used the occasion to take selfies with the elephants, or is that “selphies”?
The elephants’ tradition of walking through the city streets started in Baltimore 33 years ago and spread to other cities. Their final appearance in Baltimore will be at the circus performance on Sunday.
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