The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced Saturday night that it would hold its final performance in May, a victory for animal rights activists who have battled the show for decades. 

A message from Kenneth Feld, president of the Ringling parent company Feld Entertainment, said that “Ringling Bros. ticket sales have been declining, but following the transition of the elephants off the road, we saw an even more dramatic drop. This, coupled with high operating costs, made the circus an unsustainable business for the company.” 

The company said in March 2015 that it would retire its elephants by 2018. Other performing animals, such as tigers, lions, horses, dogs, and camels, remained in the show. 

Animal rights groups cheered Saturday’s announcement, attributing it to shifting public opinion after a long awareness campaign showing traveling circuses cannot meet the needs of wild animals. 

“After decades of exposing the suffering of animals in circuses behind the scenes, we are pleased to hear that Ringling has finally bowed to public opinion—it was a mistake for them not to see the trend away from animal shows to human-only performances over a decade ago,” said Jan Creamer, president of Animal Defenders International.