Ringling Bros. Circus Is Retiring its Elephants in May

January 11, 2016, 7:12 PM UTC
Ringling Bros. And Barnum & Bailey Presents "Circus XTREME" VIP Celebrity Red Carpet Premiere
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13: General view of elephants and atmosphere at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey's 'Circus XTREME' VIP celebrity red carpet premiere at Staples Center on July 13, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by David A. Walega/FilmMagic)
Photograph by David A. Walega — FilmMagic/Getty Images

This post has been updated with comment from Ringling Bros.

Come May, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will no longer feature its iconic elephants.

The acts are ending a year and a half earlier than originally planned as there have been increasing calls to stop using the animals due to animal cruelty allegations, as first reported by the Associated Press.

In March, the company said that it would retire its herd of elephants in 2018. Alana Feld, Ringling’s executive vice president and show producer, told the AP that it realized “we could actually do this a lot sooner.”

The enclosures for the retired elephants reportedly took less time to build than initially expected.

Ringling will unveil a new show in July without the elephants, which first started being used in 1882 when P.T. Barnum brought over an elephant to the U.S.

“We’re looking at a lot of new ways of doing things,” Feld said.

The move comes over a year after Feld Entertainment, the company that owns the circus, won a $25.2 million settlement from animal rights groups that alleged its employees had mistreated the elephant after a 14-year legal battle.

“Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey brings families together to share in pure fun and wonder through live entertainment,” said Feld in a statement. “From now until May 2016, our elephants will continue to be a part of that wonderful experience, and we invite families that want to see our amazing elephants perform one last time to have an opportunity to do so.”