After 146 years, Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus has announced that it will be packing up the Big Top.
The traditional travelling circus, which was formed by Phineas Taylor Barnum and the five Ringling brothers, has performed across the US since the mid 1800s.
However, public attitudes to animal welfare, competition from other types of entertainment and an outdated business model have forced the Circus to close for good.
In a statement Kenneth Feld, chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment, the producer of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® said, “After much evaluation and deliberation, my family and I have made the difficult business decision that Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® will hold its final performances in May of this year. Ringling Bros. ticket sales have been declining, but following the transition of the elephants off the road, we saw an even more dramatic drop. This, coupled with high operating costs, made the circus an unsustainable business for the company.”
Around 10 million people visit the Ringling Bros Circus every year. The declining audience for traditional circuses, often featuring animal shows, suggests a change in public tastes towards more theatrical circus entertainment such as Cirque du Soleil.
Feld Entertainment owns other shows including Monster Jam, Disney on Ice and Marvel Universe Live.