After 146 years spent entertaining the world, “The Greatest Show on Earth” will take its final bow.
On Saturday, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced that its final performance would be on May 21, 2017.
Juliette Feld, the organization’s field entertainment’s chief operating officer, said in a statement:
This was a difficult business decision to make, but by ending the circus tours, we will be able to concentrate on the other lines of business within the Feld Entertainment portfolio,” “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.
The organization’s chief executive, Kenneth Feld, said the closure was due to declining ticket sales and the move to rid the circus of its elephants following a shift in public opinion toward circus animals. The two “made the circus an unsustainable business for the company,” Feld said.
Animal rights activists claimed the move as a victory for their cause.
IT’S OVER! https://t.co/JL0j61VoP9
— Pamela Anderson (@pamfoundation) January 15, 2017
— PETA (@peta) January 15, 2017
The closure of Ringling Bros. circus ends 146 years of animal humiliation for human amusement. Good riddance.
— Seth MacFarlane (@SethMacFarlane) January 15, 2017
— Daniel Schneider (@BiologistDan) January 15, 2017
Ringling has suffered a fate similar to that of SeaWorld, which has seen its share of intense backlash online and in the documentary, “Blackfish.” A 2011 article from Mother Jones called Ringling’s product “the saddest show on Earth,” as it detailed the mistreatment of elephants who spend most of their lives chained, threatened and abused.
Last year, the company announced it would no longer use elephants in its show and would move them to a sanctuary in Florida.
Feld said it would transfer its existing animals to similar sanctuaries and would help its “hundreds” of circus workers find new employment.