Ringling Bros. to retire circus elephants early

Posted at 4:34 PM, Jan 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-11 17:25:54-05

The parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey announced Monday all of its traveling Asian elephants will be retired to a permanent conservation home by May of this year. (Video via Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus)

It seems like a stunning shift, as just last year the company said the elephants would be retired by 2018. (Video via Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus)

The circuses have faced accusations of maltreatment and unsuitable living conditions for the elephants for over a decade.

Some outlets, like Mother Jones, have reported instances of animal abuse, such as forcing the elephants to work while sick and spending long periods of time in chains. 

However, one 14-year lawsuit ended in 2014 with animal rights groups paying almost $16 million after a judge ruled their claims of maltreatment lacked evidence and one of their witnesses was paid close to $200,000. 

A total of 42 elephants will live at the company's Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida. The center reportedly cares for the animals and conducts cancer research. (Video via Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus)

This video includes images from Getty Images.