The last Ringling Bros. circus performances ever will take place this May, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus’s owner told the Associated Press.
There are 30 more shows left around the country, and then the business is closing for good.
The cost of running the circus, difficulties transporting the show, low attendance, and complaints about the circus’s treatment of animals all contributed to the decision. Sales went down after the circus removed its elephants last year.
“This has been a very difficult decision for me and for the entire family,” Feld Entertainment Chairman and CEO Kenneth Feld told the AP. But ultimately, the circus had trouble meeting the expectations of 21st-century audiences.
“It’s a different model that we can’t see how it works in today’s world to justify and maintain an affordable ticket price,” he said. “We tried all these different things to see what would work, and supported it with a lot of funding as well, and we weren’t successful in finding the solution.”
Animal rights organizations are celebrating the end of an era.
“After 36 years of PETA protests, which have awoken the world to the plight of animals in captivity, PETA heralds the end of what has been the saddest show on earth for wild animals, and asks all other animal circuses to follow suit, as this is a sign of changing times,” People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) president Ingrid Newkirk echoed in a statement.
Ringling Bros. owns the Center for Elephant Conservation, where its elephants will remain, and the other animals will find homes. As for the human employees, some will be moved to other shows, like Disney on Ice and Marvel Live, while the rest will be laid off.
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