The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus will host its final show Sunday, ending an incredible 146 year run.
“The Greatest Show on Earth” will perform for the last time at the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island in New York Sunday, ending an American tradition that dates back generations. Animal rights and advocacy groups are celebrating the demise of the circus as a major victory.
“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, people know now who these animals are, and we know it is wrong to capture and exploit them,” People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said in a statement after Ringling Bros. announced its plan to close in January.
Animal rights activists have been protesting Ringling Bros. for over 30 years, claiming that the circus abused animals and forced them to perform against their will. The circus retired its elephants in 2016. They then abruptly announced plans to permanently close after attendance took a sharp nosedive following the elephants’ removal from the show.
Phineas Taylor Barnum purchased a museum in New York in 1841 and started traveling in 1871. Barnum partnered with James. A. Bailey and James. L. Hutchinson while the Ringling Brothers started performing a five man vaudeville-style show in Wisconsin in 1882. The groups merged in 1919 to become the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey.
The Ringling Bros. became an integral part of Americana, entertaining countless attendees at performances across the country. A 1952 movie blockbuster about the circus won best picture at the Academy Awards. Declining attendance combined with high operating costs led to its ultimate demise.
The Ringling Bros. operated two separate traveling circuses. One group has already performed its final show in Providence, Rhode Island. The final show will be live-streamed on the Ringling Brothers Facebook page.
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