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After 80 years, Moolah Shrine Circus retires its elephants

Over the years, the circus has retired its lion, tigers and bears. Now, elephants join the list of retirees.

ST. LOUIS — Moolah Shrine Circus is making some changes for its 81st year of entertainment in St. Louis. The circus announced Thursday the retirement of its elephants.

The decision to retire the elephants has been five years in the making, the circus said in its announcement. Over the years, it has retired other animal performers, including its lions, tigers and bears.

In 2014, the circus made headlines when three of its elephants escaped and roamed the parking lot at The Family Arena in St. Charles, damaging multiple cars.

A spokesperson for the Moolah Shrine Circus told 5 On Your Side the circus didn't own the elephants but contracted with a company that owned them. The elephants have been with the circus for more than 18 years and the decision to retire them was made several years ago.

The circus said it was excited about the retirement of the elephants, who live on more than 300 acres of land in Oklahoma. 

"They're going to retire and roam the land," Moolah Shriners Potentate Robby Dirkers tell 5 On Your Side, "They just aren't going to make the trek here anymore."

Despite the elephants' retirement, the Dirkers is promising all-new family-friendly performances under the big top. 

"We're going to bring it this year. It's going to be geared to a younger crowd, the adults are going to love it too," Dirkers said. "It's going to be fast-paced and quick moving. We're really excited about this year's show." 

The springtime show will come to The Family Arena March 23 - 26, including trapeze artists and clowns. It will also offer classic carnival foods, like cotton candy, popcorn and snow cones.

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