[16:9 Featured] Staples Center

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey begins a six-day run at Staples Center Thursday night, and a circus official said this may be the last year its elephants perform in Southern California.

An ordinance banning the use of “bullhooks” and other types of goads and prods employed in wrangling elephants in circuses and other shows in Los Angeles goes into effect in 2017.

Stephen Payne, vice president of corporate communications for Feld Entertainment, the parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey,  said the ordinance would “effectively prevent Ringling Bros. from bringing the circus to Staples Center.”

“We have looked at possibly bringing the circus with elephants to venues that are not within the city limits of LA, but a decision on that has not been made,” Payne told City News Service.

The Feld Family, owners of Feld Entertainment, announced plans in March to relocate the 13 elephants traveling with the three Ringling Bros. circus units to the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida by 2018.

The center was founded in 1995 and is home to more than 40 elephants — the largest herd of Asian elephants in the Western Hemisphere, Payne said. Its breeding program is the most successful for the endangered species in the hemisphere, according to Payne.

The animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment Animals plans to conduct protests outside of Staples Center today, calling for the circus to immediately end using elephants and urging “families to steer clear of animal acts,” according to organizer David Perle.

Ringling Bros. will continue to feature exotic animals such as tigers and is introducing Bactrian camels to the production.

The edition of the circus playing at Staples Center, Circus XTREME, includes the “Caravan of Camels,” billed as “the only act of its kind in the world,” featuring six twin-humped Bactrian camels, Bengal tigers and performing poodles.

Circus XTREME is a combination of traditional circus acts with an extreme sports display, featuring BMX freestyle riders, stunt performers, trampoline acrobats, slack line gymnastics tricks and the Bungee Skydives aerial acro-ballet.

Circus XTREME’s cast of more than 100 human performers from 13 nations also includes clowns, the Mongolian Marvels strongmen who create a human pyramid with a combined weight of more than 800 pounds, and 25-year-old Gemma “The Jet” Kirby, billed as “the world’s youngest human cannonball.”

Tickets for opening night are $15 and for the remainder of the run are priced at $25, $30, $45, $50, $100 and $110.

Here is the schedule for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus at Staples Center:

Today — 7:30 p.m.;

Friday — Noon, 7:30 p.m.;

Saturday — 11:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m.;

Sunday — 11:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m.;

Monday — 7:30 p.m.; and

Tuesday — Noon, 7:30 p.m.

Following its run at Staples Center, the circus will be at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario from July 17-21 and Honda Center in Anaheim from July 24-Aug. 2.

—City News Service

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