JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — It's called the greatest show on earth and stops right in Jacksonville every January.
"My girls really super enjoyed it when they were little and it was fun for them, and I was glad I could share that," said Sally Gibson.
For local families, it's entertainment and a rare chance to see humans interact with wild animals, but for local animal rights activists like Adam Sugalski, it's cruelty.
Sugalski said he captured photos from Ringling Brothers' recent show two months ago to show how the elephants are held captive.
Latest News Headlines from Action News
"These elephants live on the road 11 months out of the year in boxcars, they're kept in small pens, and I think if people understand that, they're less likely to support the organization as Ringling Brothers," said Sugalski.
He and dozens of other protesters have stood outside the circus holding signs that read "chained beaten and alone" -- all to raise awareness.
Finally, their words are being heard. Ringling Brothers decided to stop using elephants in its shows starting in 2018 amid growing public concern about how the animals are treated.
"Hopefully they'll put the animals in a nice sanctuary, and we are concerned about what's going to happen after this," said Suglaski.
Local activists say they hoped the elephants wouldn't return next year, but if it means they'll be placed in the right hands, they're willing to wait.
Ringling Brothers was also reportedly facing a financial burden because a number of cities and counties have passed anti-circus and anti-elephant ordinances.
For Action News on the go, sign up for Action News Mobile & Email alerts