Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus close after 146 years

In 1884, the Ringling Brothers created their own circus in Wisconsin.

Seeing the circus on its final day was "a little bit sad", said Jeff Sinkiewicz, 56, of Centereach, there with a friend and her 10-year-old daughter.

In recent years, the circus has come under fire from animal rights activists for its treatment of animals.

Animal trainer Alexander Lacey performs with Maasai the lion. "We'll never get a chance to take our grandchildren to the circus", she said. Its outer-space-themed show Sunday featured BMX bikes, Segways and, for the first year, an ice floor and skaters.

For the last time in the show's 146 year history, the sun is set on the Ringling Brothers Circus with a final send off from the CEO. The Feld family bought the Ringling circus in 1967. "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". Many in the audience had tears. And for a long time, he said, he did not believe the show could continue to go on amid rising rail costs.

Ringling Bros. ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson opens the final show of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Uniondale, N.Y.

The other "Out of This World" show gave its final performance in Uniondale, New York on Sunday night.

In the end, though, Feld executives said they knew the circus couldn't compete with iPhones, the internet, video games and massively branded and carefully marketed characters. "There are still circus fans".

"I think it's ridiculous", said Eric Tann of Nesconset, who attended the show with his girlfriend and blamed the animal rights groups for the end of Ringling. While he did not perform during Ringling's final shows, he said that many former and retired performers are in attendance to pay respect to the iconic show. He was discovered doing acrobatic tricks as a child in Tangier, Morocco, and invited to circus school.

  • Salvatore Jensen