Local Funding Support Follows the Release of New Cancer Research Involving Study of Ringling Bros. Elephants’ DNA
January 18, 2016 – – Richmond, Virginia – – Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey is donating $10,000 to Children’s Hospital Foundation to support local pediatric patients at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU (CHoR). In addition to the donation, the Richmond Coliseum and Ringling Bros. will bring performers to CHoR to share laughter and joy with children and families on Wednesday, March 9 at 11 a.m.
“At Ringling Bros., we focus on entertaining families and giving back to the communities where we perform every week. In addition to the financial contributions made by Ringling Bros., Richmond Coliseum will join us in bringing our performers directly to Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU to entertain families who aren’t able to make it to the show,” said Alana Feld, Executive Vice President of Feld Entertainment and Producer of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey.
Ringling Bros. and the Richmond Coliseum are hosting a performance of Ringling Bros. Presents Xtreme dedicated to honoring Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU and 100 special hospital guests on Thursday, March 10 at 7:00 p.m. Ringling Bros. will also be raising awareness at this performance of the national cancer research being conducted by Dr. Joshua Schiffman, who is studying DNA from Ringling Bros. elephants and comparing it to DNA from his patients with cancer. Scientists are studying why there is such a low incidence of cancer in elephants, what makes this cancer resistance possible in elephants and not in humans, and how this may correlate to new treatments for pediatric cancers.
More than 16,000 children and teenagers are diagnosed with cancer annually in the United States while elephants experience almost no cancer over their lifetimes. Pediatric Oncologist Dr. Schiffman and the team from Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital, the Department of Pediatrics and Huntsman Cancer Institute, all in Salt Lake City, Utah along with Dr. Dennis Schmitt, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Chair of Veterinary Services and Director of Research; and Dr. Wendy Kiso, Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation Research and Conservation Scientist; and other scientific collaborators; recently confirmed that elephants rarely develop cancer with a mortality rate of less than 5% compared to up to 25% in humans. Looking at the elephant genome, they described that elephants have 40 copies of a tumor suppressor gene named TP53 compared to only two copies in humans.
Elephant DNA is instrumental to this research, and Dr. Schiffman needed a diverse gene pool to effectively study the species. Because the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation has the largest herd of Asian elephants in the Western Hemisphere, the Feld Family felt compelled to help support this research. The incredible bond the Center for Elephant Conservation staff has with these majestic animals, and the hands-on care provided at the Center, allows our veterinarians to easily provide the blood samples Dr. Schiffman needs to further his research.
In a total of 50 cities, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey 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 to the Primary Children’s Hospital Foundation to support their Pediatric Cancer Research Program. This program, which helped support the elephant research, focuses on novel approaches to prevention, diagnosis and improving the value of pediatric cancer care.
“Twenty years ago, we founded the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant for Conservation in order 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.
The Feld Family is forming the Ringling Bros. Children’s Fund™, as an element of their ongoing philanthropy through the Feld Family Foundation, to support children’s charities. As part of the partnership with Primary Children’s Hospital, the Department of Pediatrics and Dr. Schiffman, the Ringling Bros. Children’s Fund and Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey together will be donating more than $1 million to support cancer research and to care for children stricken by the disease.
Additional information on Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation, the partnership and information on how families can donate to the research can be found online at www.ringling.com and www.ringlingelephantcenter.com.
About Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU
Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU (CHoR) is Central Virginia’s only comprehensive, full-service hospital dedicated to the care of children. CHoR is ranked among the nation’s top children’s hospitals by U.S. News and World Report and is a Level 1 pediatric trauma center. With more than 15 locations across Central Virginia, CHoR provides pediatric inpatient and outpatient services that cover nearly all children’s health-related needs. As part of VCU Health, CHoR is committed to ensuring access to care for all children, training future pediatric caregivers and making new discoveries that improve understanding and treatment of childhood diseases. For more, see chrichmond.org.
About Feld Entertainment
Feld Entertainment is the worldwide leader in producing and presenting live touring family entertainment experiences that lift the human spirit and create indelible memories, with 30 million people in attendance at its shows each year. Feld Entertainment’s productions have appeared in more than 75 countries and on six continents to date and include Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey®, Monster Jam®, Monster Energy Supercross, AMSOIL Arenacross, Disney On Ice Presented by StonyfieldYoKids Organic Yogurt, Disney Live! Presented by StonyfieldYoKids Organic Yogurt and Marvel Universe LIVE! More information about Feld Entertainment is available online at www.feldentertainment.com. More information on the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation is available at www.ringlingelephantcenter.com.