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Human Interest

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Is Closing After 146 Years

Updated

 

After countless shows spanning nearly one-and-a-half centuries, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will perform its last show in May.

Kenneth Feld, the owner of the historic circus, told the Associated Press that several factors contributed to closing the show after 146 years. These include the high price of putting on the show, waning popularity and difficulties with animal rights organizations.

“There isn’t any one thing,” Feld, whose family purchased the circus in 1967, said. “This has been a very difficult decision for me and for the entire family.”

Juliette Feld, the Chief Operating Officer, said ticket sales had been dropping for the past 10 years, with a major decline after the company removed the most iconic and controversial spectacles — the elephants — from the show last May. After a “long and costly” legal battle, the Felds decided to move the elephants to a conservation in Florida.

The show has been around since the mid-1800s, when Phineas Taylor Barnum joined forces with the five Ringling brothers to create the modern circus. Now, they have 30 more shows to perform before ending the show’s legendary run in Uniondale, New York, on May 21.

The Felds said the animals in the show will be given “suitable homes,” and added that only some of the approximately 500 people in the show will be transferred to the company’s other ongoing shows.