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Nabisco uncaged its animal crackers after 116 years. Here's why

SALT LAKE CITY — Worry not. The animal crackers’ animals are free of their cages.

Mondelez International, the parent company of Nabisco, recently redesigned the cover of Barnum’s Animals crackers to no longer include a cage in front of the animals.

Now, the zebra, elephant, lion, giraffe and gorilla remain free on the box’s face.

As CBS News reported, the redesign came after the company faced tremendous pressure from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

This photo shows Nabisco Barnum's Animals crackers on the shelf of a grocery store in Des Moines, Iowa. After more than a century behind bars, the beasts on boxes of animal crackers are roaming free. The new boxes retain their familiar red and yellow colo
This photo shows Nabisco Barnum's Animals crackers on the shelf of a grocery store in Des Moines, Iowa. After more than a century behind bars, the beasts on boxes of animal crackers are roaming free. The new boxes retain their familiar red and yellow coloring and prominent "Barnum's Animals" lettering. But instead of showing the animals in cages, implying that they're traveling in boxcars for the circus, the new boxes feature a zebra, elephant, lion, giraffe and gorilla wandering side-by-side in a grassland.
Kiichiro Sato, AP

PETA wrote a letter to Mondelez in spring 2016 calling for a redesign of the boxes. PETA has long protested the use of animals in circuses.

"Given the egregious cruelty inherent in circuses that use animals and the public's swelling opposition to the exploitation of animals used for entertainment, we urge Nabisco to update its packaging in order to show animals who are free to roam in their natural habitats," PETA said in its letter, according to The Associated Press.

Mondelez agreed and began redesigning the boxes immediately.

"When PETA reached out about Barnum's, we saw this as another great opportunity to continue to keep this brand modern and contemporary," said Jason Levine, Mondelez's chief marketing officer for North America, in a statement.

This photo shows a multi-pack box of Nabisco Barnum's Animals crackers on the shelf of a grocery store in Des Moines, Iowa. After more than a century behind bars, the beasts on boxes of animal crackers are roaming free. The new boxes retain their familiar
This photo shows a multi-pack box of Nabisco Barnum's Animals crackers on the shelf of a grocery store in Des Moines, Iowa. After more than a century behind bars, the beasts on boxes of animal crackers are roaming free. The new boxes retain their familiar red and yellow coloring and prominent "Barnum's Animals" lettering. But instead of showing the animals in cages, implying that they're traveling in boxcars for the circus, the new boxes feature a zebra, elephant, lion, giraffe and gorilla wandering side-by-side in a grassland.
Charlie Neibergall, AP

PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said PETA celebrates the new boxes for aligning with modern culture.

"The new box for Barnum's Animals crackers perfectly reflects that our society no longer tolerates the caging and chaining of wild animals for circus shows," she said.

This is the first time the company has changed the design in 116 years, according to USA Today.

"It's probably one of, if not the oldest, (product) in our portfolio," said Mondelez spokeswoman Kimberly Fontes. "We're always looking to see how to keep it modern, to keep it contemporary with customers."

This photo shows Nabisco Barnum's Animals crackers on the shelf of a grocery store in Des Moines, Iowa. After more than a century behind bars, the beasts on boxes of animal crackers are roaming free. The new boxes retain their familiar red and yellow colo
This photo shows Nabisco Barnum's Animals crackers on the shelf of a grocery store in Des Moines, Iowa. After more than a century behind bars, the beasts on boxes of animal crackers are roaming free. The new boxes retain their familiar red and yellow coloring and prominent "Barnum's Animals" lettering. But instead of showing the animals in cages, implying that they're traveling in boxcars for the circus, the new boxes feature a zebra, elephant, lion, giraffe and gorilla wandering side-by-side in a grassland.
Kiichiro Sato, AP

However, the name of the crackers won’t change, USA Today reported. The name is meant to honor P.T. Barnum, who helped run one of the longest-running circuses in U.S. history, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Ringling Bros. closed down in May 2017 due to “high operating costs, legal fights with animal-welfare groups and declining ticket sales once the circus owners agreed to stop using elephants in the show, a concession to increasing legal and societal pressure opposed to the practice,” USA Today reported.