Ringling Bros. shuts down the big top after 146 years

"In the 50 years that our family has been producing Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, over a quarter of a billion people have seen the shows", said Feld, accompanied by his two young grandchildren. One was a traditional three-ring circus which ended its run in Providence, Rhode Island earlier in May.

The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus that has wowed crowds for almost 150 years with its "Greatest Show on Earth", before facing increasingly intense controversy over its use of live large animals, is taking its final bow Sunday night.

Capping a legacy that stretches back to the 19th-century showman PT Barnum, the circus bade adieu with a series of shows at the weekend at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York.

"Following the transition of the elephants off the circus, the company saw a decline in ticket sales greater than could have been anticipated", Feld Entertainment said, referring to how the show retired its elephants past year in response to pressure from animal-rights activists.

As for the circus animals, a spokesperson said they will have new homes- almost 80 of them have been placed in different homes around the country. The company blames the cancelation of its popular elephant-acts and high operation costs for a decline in business.

"Let's go home and show everyone we are forever more the Greatest Show on Earth!".

Over the years, he had taken his children to the Ringling circus as many as 25 times.

"There's a lot of mixed emotions, said Rev. George "Jerry" Hogan, Ringling's circus chaplain. I'm seeing people I haven't seen in years".

Davis Vassallo performs during the final show of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Uniondale, N.Y.

"You watched hundreds of people burst into tears at the same time", recalls ringmaster Kristen Michelle Wilson, Ringling Bros' first female ringmaster.

Now she is turning her efforts toward other U.S. circuses that still use animals.

Share with Us - We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article, and smart, constructive criticism. "Now that we have made this decision, as a company, and as a family, we will strive to support our circus performers and crew in making the transition to new opportunities". It was sold to Mattel in 1971, but the Feld family continued to manage the shows.

The circus which began in 1871 as as P. T. Barnum's Grand Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan and Hippodrome was bought by its current parent company, Feld Entertainment in 1967.

Finally, he signed off, exhorting the crowd: "Keep the circus alive inside you!"

Be Civil - It's OK to have a difference in opinion but there's no need to be a jerk.

  • Larry Hoffman