The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is shutting down after 146 years of performances, and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is taking credit for it.
More than a business, the circus has been an institution since the legendary showman P.T. Barnum inaugurated the spectacle not long after the end of the American Civil War.
The activist animal rights group PETA took credit for the loss in a news release:
As of May, the saddest show on earth for wild animals will end. Thirty-six years of PETA protests, of documenting animals left to die, beaten animals, and much more, has reduced attendance to the point of no return. All other animal circuses, roadside zoos, and wild animal exhibitors, including marine amusement parks like SeaWorld and the Miami Seaquarium, must take note: society has changed, eyes have been opened
Ringling Bros. does blame ongoing battles with animal rights groups as a primary cause of the closure. However, it also says high operating costs and changing public tastes have contributed to a decline in business.
“There isn’t any one thing,” said Kenneth Feld, chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment. “This has been a very difficult decision for me and for the entire family.”
Circus employees first heard the news after Saturday evening shows in Orlando and Miami, Florida.
The circus will continue to perform 30 more shows until May. The final show will be in Uniondale, New York, at the Nassau County Coliseum on May 21.
Former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson, a celebrity PETA activist, was quick to tweet her joy at the news of the circus’s demise. “It’s over,” she wrote.
President-elect Donald Trump, though not tweeting about the news, has registered his disappointment when the circus retired its elephant act.
The circus was an amalgamation of Barnum’s show that featured freaks and performing oddities, and the Ringling Bros., which featured trapeze artists, clowns and other acts that became staples of circus entertainment.
Untold millions have viewed the show over almost a century and a half.