Circus elephants could be the cure to childhood cancer

The same simple blood samples that Ringling Bros.® takes from their elephants as part of their routine health maintenance can now be studied by researchers to try to understand why elephants rarely get cancer.
The same simple blood samples that Ringling Bros.® takes from their elephants as part of their routine health maintenance can now be studied by researchers to try to understand why elephants rarely get cancer.

(Sponsored Advertising) -- Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey®  is coming soon to New York and New Jersey and taking your child to The Greatest Show On Earth® is an experience most parents get to share with their little ones at least once in their lives. Now, the circus brings an even greater source of fulfillment for families, one that could potentially change the treatment of childhood cancer— and it starts with elephants.

Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation (CEC) has partnered with pediatric oncologist Dr. Joshua Schiffman to tackle a new frontier of research and treatment. While humans have up to a 25 percent chance of getting cancer in their lifetime, elephants have a less than five percent chance. By analyzing the blood of the CEC elephants, Schiffman discovered a genetic link he lovingly refers to as the “knight gene” due to it steadfast approach to attack abnormal cells. This direct genetic link is what protects elephants from developing cancer. Elephants have 40 copies of this knight gene, where a healthy person only has 2 copies. The study’s full findings have been published in the new edition of the Journal of American Medical Association.

“Twenty years ago, we founded the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation to preserve the endangered Asian elephant for future generations. Little did we know then that they may hold the key to cancer treatment and we’re tremendously excited to be a part of it,” said Kenneth Feld, Chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment.

Let’s face it, the nightmarish possibility of your child getting cancer is very real. Each year over 16,000 children and teens will be diagnosed with cancer in the United States. Having been diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma at the age of 15, Dr. Schiffman is hoping to help children just like him.

In the spirit of these new findings, the Feld Family – founders of the Ringling Bros. CEC – is forming the Ringling Bros. Children’s Fund™ as an element of their ongoing participation in cancer research. In 50 cities that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey visits, Ringling Bros. will donate $10,000 to a local children’s hospital or treatment center and the Ringling Bros. Children’s Fund will match each donation with an additional $10,000 donation to the Primary Children’s Hospital Foundation to support the groundbreaking cancer research study involving DNA from Ringling Bros. elephants. Here in New York and New Jersey, the Brooklyn Hospital Center and Tackle Kids Cancer program from Hackensack University Medical Center will receive $10,000 to support pediatric oncology programs on behalf of the Greater New York City Area where Ringling Bros. will put on The Greatest Show On Earth® at both Barclays Center in Brooklyn February 25 through March 6 and Prudential Center in Newark March 9 through 13.

For more information visit ringlingelephantcenter.com.

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