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Ringling Bros. ‘Legends’; Circus animal controversy continues

Have you ever really seen a unicorn? How about a woolly mammoth? Now, you can, when Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus returns to the Nassau Coliseum with “Legends.” That’s right, the Greatest Show on Earth’s latest Coliseum engagement promises to be something unusual. But keep in mind nobody wants to bother with elephants when a Pegasus is on the premises.

Ringling Bros. Circus is coming to the Nassau Coliseum Mar. 5- 10.
Photo by Brian Ach

Something magical and not so wicked this way comes

For the average circus fan, lions, tigers and bears are beautiful and majestic but somewhat passé. So besides the standard menagerie of animals, acrobats and clowns, Ringling Bros. is offering something on the magical side. No, it has nothing to do with those mouse ears in Florida.

When the circus rolls into Nassau Coliseum Mar. 5 – 10, get ready for myths to come alive. According to, the event’s official website, “performers from around the globe” will “summon the mystical and mysterious creatures of the past…”

What creatures?

Coliseum goers can expect to see “a unicorn, a Pegasus and woolly mammoth.”

Everyone knows what a unicorn is. A Pegasus is a horse with wings, from Greek mythology. A woolly mammoth is an extinct species of elephant.

But is the show any good?

While the rest of “Legends” lives up to its reputation, the woolly mammoth may be a bit of a stretch.

In a review of Ringling’s latest effort, New York Daily News columnist Stan Sagner wrote, “…even the pre-schoolers groaned when an elephant trotted out in a preposterous fake fur costume and was hailed as ‘the Great Woolly Mammoth.’”

About the real animals

The controversy surrounding the alleged mishandling of circus animals, in general, continues. Over the past few years, claims of exploitation have become a bigger story than the actual show. Protesters will probably even appear at the Coliseum.

No doubt, animal rights organizations have brought attention to the issue. Just hit the search bar and you can find different sites, sometimes with videos, which claim animal cruelty is going on under the big top at any number of circuses.

But as always, there are two sides to this highly contentious matter. On Dec. 31, 2012, The Huffington Post reported “Ringling Bros. Wins $9.3 Million in Settlement from ASPCA over Claims of Elephant Abuse.” That sent activists reeling.

Nevertheless, maltreatment remains a hot-button topic.

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