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Ringling Bros. eliminating elephant acts

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Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus artists and elephants perform during Barnum's FUNundrum in New York on March 26, 2010. Barnum's FUNdrum, the latest show from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, was put together to create a 200th birthday salute to Phineas Taylor Barnum (P.T. Barnum), founder of the circus. The show, which will travel across the US in a mile-long train, presents some 130 perfomers from six continents and will be on tour for the next two years.  AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel Dunand (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus artists and elephants perform during Barnum’s FUNundrum in New York on March 26, 2010. Barnum’s FUNdrum, the latest show from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, was put together to create a 200th birthday salute to Phineas Taylor Barnum (P.T. Barnum), founder of the circus. The show, which will travel across the US in a mile-long train, presents some 130 perfomers from six continents and will be on tour for the next two years. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel Dunand (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

POLK CITY, Fla. (AP) — The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is ending its iconic elephant acts.

The circus’ parent company, Feld Entertainment, told The Associated Press exclusively that the acts will be phased out by 2018. Growing public concern about how the animals are treated led to the decision.

The circus plans to phase out elephant acts by 2018. Feld’s 43 elephants will live at the company’s 200-acre Center for Elephant Conservation in central Florida. Twenty-nine animals are already there, and the other 14 will arrive as they are phased out from the circus.

Elephant acts have been showcased by Ringling for more than a century and have often been featured in its posters.

The decision is being announced Thursday.