On Saturday, January 14, Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced that it will be permanently closed after May 2017. Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus has been putting on shows for 146 years. In the 1800s Phineas Taylor Barnum and James A. Bailey partnered together to create Barnum & Bailey Circus where they showed animals and human oddities. At the same time the five Ringling brothers in Wisconsin were creating a circus act of their own.
Once the two organizations merged, they traveled across the United States by train, showing their spectacle for the country to see. Hundreds of animals and circus acts were shown, created, performed, and viewed.
Over the past several years, the circus has dealt with declining ticket sales, increasing operation costs, and negativity from the public and activists regarding the captivity of wild animals that were used in performances. Ringling Bros has had several legal battles regarding animal rights groups and protesters.
According to Feld, the CEO and chairman of Feld Entertainment, there was not one specific event or situation that is closing the circus, but rather the sum of several situations that made the circus too expensive to keep running.
In 2015, the circus stated that they would stop using elephants in their acts, resulting in a large decline in ticket sales.
PETA released a statement about the closing, saying “society has changed, eyes have been opened, people know now who these animals are, and we know it is wrong to capture and exploit them.”
The final show will be held in Uniondale, New York on May 21, 2017.