Ringling Bros., ‘Greatest Show on Earth,’ to Shut Down After 146 Years

By Paul Riegler on 15 January 2017
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Big Apple Circus shut down last year

Big Apple Circus shut down last year

“The Greatest Show on Earth” will fold its tents come May. Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Bailey Circus said Friday it plans to cease operations after a final tour ends in the New York area.

Feld Entertainment, which owns the circus, blamed declining attendance, in particular after it discontinued its elephant act last year, as well as battles with animal-rights activists over the treatment of circus animals.

The past year has not been kind to the circus industry. In 2016, Cole Bros., a circus founded in 1884, shut down and the Big Apple Circus, a smaller New York-based circus, suspended its operations as well and is planning a bankruptcy auction next month.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus was formed in 1919 with the merger of Ringling Bros. World’s Great Shows with Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth. The latter dates back to 1870 when P.T. Barnum’s Great Traveling Museum, Menagerie, Caravan, & Hippodrome was formed.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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