Ringling Bros. says circuses to be elephant-free in 3 years

POLK CITY, Fla. (AP) — Animal rights activists were stunned when the parent company of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced it would eliminate elephants from its circus performances by 2018.

But activists on Thursday soon focused on the timing, questioning why it will take three years to phase out the animals from the traveling shows.

Feld Entertainment is the company that owns the circus. Company executives say it will take three years to build proper facilities on the 200-acre plot of land in central Florida that’s already being used as an elephant conservation center.

They have repeatedly denied allegations by activists that circus employees mistreated elephants.