They have an extensive elephant act during which the animals sit upright, stand on their hind legs, and even stand on their heads. For me, this in and of itself is upsetting enough; I have no interest in seeing one of the most majestic, dignified and intelligent of wild animals forced to perform in captivity for human enjoyment. They also use tigers and zebras in the show.
I remember going to a circus as a child once, and enjoying the whole thing immensely...until the elephants came on. I was close enough to get a good view, and remember seeing so many whip marks on the skin of the elephant. In reality- the elephant skin is tough like a horse and they probably didn't feel any of those marks more than a tap- but looking into it's eye, it just looked beaten down and confused at why it was being asked to perform these illogical tasks.
The tools and methods used during trainings are coming into question, as well as the conditions in the boxcars, ventilation feeding and lack of adequate veterinarian attention are all on the table.
Do yourself a favour and don't youtube Ringling Brother's elephant training methods, lets just say my dreams about the state of this particular modern circus have been crushed forever.
My hope is that eventually the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus will catch on to the declining popularity of their animal acts and will omit them for good, so that I can go enjoy the show with a clean conscience. Although it's true this traveling show has a very long history including animals acts, times change and people must change too!