The elephants will be moved to the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida.
The elephants will be moved to the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida.
PHOTO: EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images

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The elephants will retire a year and a half earlier than what was previously announced

They will go to live at the Conservation Center in Florida

(CNN) —  

The storied elephants at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus are set to retire by May, a year and a half ahead of what was expected.

The circus’ parent company made the announcement Monday.

Feld Entertainment, which owns Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, had said its touring elephants would head to a Florida conservation center by 2018.

“Since then, the company’s dedicated staff has made the necessary plans and preparations to move the elephants to the Center for Elephant Conservation much sooner than anticipated,” Feld Entertainment said.

During Sunday’s show, the elephants paraded into the stage as they had for years, linked to each other trunk-to-tail. For the last show, the stars spun, frolicked, stood on their hind legs and posed in a headstand. At one point, they even faked a nap, only to rise when the audience yelled “Wake up, elephants!”

The 200-acre center was created in 1995 as a facility for the care and study of Asian elephants. It is in rural central Florida.

CNN’s Devon Sayers and Gregory Wallace contributed to this report.