The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is ending its elephant acts a year and a half early, and will retire all of its touring elephants in May. There are currently 11 elephants performing with the circus.
Local governments have already started passing “anti-circus” and anti-elephant” ordinances in response to concerns that elephants were being mistreated by the traveling circuses.
The circus’s parent company, Feld Entertainment, told The Associated Press that all of the iconic elephants will be permanently retired to the company’s 200-acre Center for Elephant Conservation in central Florida.
Feld owns the largest herd of Asian elephants in North America. Along with the 11 who are still touring, the company has 29 elephants on its property now, and two additional animals are on breeding loans to zoos.
The company will spend $65,000 per year to care for each elephant. The company is also building new structures to house its elephant heard.
Feld Entertainment announced in 2015 that it planned to retire the elephants by 2018.
Ringling has showcases elephants for more than 100 years.
With anti-circus ordinances refusing elephant performances, the circus found it very difficult to plan a tour for three traveling circuses across 115 cities each year.
Because the circus was faced with local ordinances, it would have been forced to file dozens of costly lawsuits.
Ringling’s new show will begin in July without its trademark elephants.
“We’re looking at a lot of new ways of doing things,” Feld said.