AUGUSTA — A Maine legislative committee is divided on a bill to ban the use of elephants in traveling animal acts.

Animal advocates say it’s inherently cruel to isolate and chain the highly intelligent mammals and force them to do unnatural tricks like headstands.

But elephant trainers and circus enthusiasts deny allegations of animal cruelty and say elephants continue to be a big draw for families seeking old-fashioned entertainment.

Eight members of the Agricultural, Conservation and Forestry Committee voted Thursday to recommend that the bill shouldn’t pass. Five members voted to recommend sending the Legislature an amended version, which has yet to be drawn up.

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will close in May, a year after its owner sent its elephants to a center for elephant conservation.