It's been nearly a century and a half of performances around the country, but the owners of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus have said that the show will close permanently in May of this year. The iconic image of the three-ringed circus has been a part of the American landscape since shortly after the Civil War, but owners have said that a decline in attendance and high insurance and operating costs as well as extended battles with animal rights groups resulting in the removal of elephants from the show's entertainment offerings have all contributed to the show's demise.
The news of the closure was given to employees after the Saturday evening shows in Miami and Orlando. The final performance will be held at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, NY on May 21st.
Company Chairman and CEO, Kenneth Feld issued a statement saying:
Nearly 50 years ago, my father founded our company with the acquisition of Ringling Bros. The circus and its people have continually been a source of inspiration and joy to my family and me, which is why this was such a tough business decision to make. The decision was even more difficult because of the amazing fans that have become part of our extended circus family over the years, and we are extremely grateful to the millions of families who have made Ringling Bros. part of their lives for generations. We know Ringling Bros. isn't only our family business, but also your family tradition.
While it will mean the end of the classic circus format, its legacy will continue on in the form its modern descendants like Cirque Du Soleil and Cavalia. The company will also continue to live on as they had already diversified into other live entertainment shows including Marvel Universe LIVE!, Monster Jam, Disney on Ice, and Disney LIVE!.