Ringling Bros. wraps final shows in 146-year history at Nassau Coliseum

After almost 150 years, the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus will perform its last show in Uniondale, New York.

The animal rights group tied Ringling's demise to its long-standing resistance to demands that it stop using animals.

After 146 years of dazzling crowds all over the world, the final performance for the famed circus was held at the Nassau Coliseum.

Feld, his voice sometimes shaking, said that in the 50 years that his family had produced the circus, over a quarter-billion people had seen its shows.

Since 1919, Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey has dazzled millions, but has faced its share of controversy.

Big cat trainer Katie Azzario-Lacey poses for a portrait before taking part in the last weekend of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York, Friday. And for a long time, he said, he did not believe the show could continue to go on amid rising rail costs. The circus has long defended its treatment of animals as humane.

Animal rights activists had targeted the circus, saying that forcing animals to perform and transporting them around the country amounted to abuse.

Elephants were removed from the shows past year.

"Depending on where you sat, you would see a completely different show, it was that enormous", he said.

"The animals, this is where we fell in love with them", she said.

In a show of support, Circus World invited the performers in Ringling Bros Circus to be the Grand Marshalls in Baraboo's annual Big Top Parade this July. In January, the company announced Ringling would close for good.

Created in 1995 by Ringling, the facility focuses on the care and study of Asian elephants - an endangered species that it had used in its shows.

The Ringling cast assembled in the finale of the final performance on Sunday, as it does at the conclusion of every tour, to sing "Auld Lang Syne". "But Ringling stonewalled for decades", PETA said in a statement posted on its website on Saturday.

Ringling had two touring circuses this season, one of which ended its run earlier this month in Providence, Rhode Island. Its outer-space-themed show Sunday featured BMX bikes, Segways and, for the first year, an ice floor and skaters.

  • Salvatore Jensen