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In May, Ringling Brother will close after 146 years. Kenneth Feld, chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment and the producer of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey says that his family is "extremely grateful to the millions of families who have made Ringling Bros. part of their lives for generations."
He goes on to say that the circus has "continuously been a source of inspiration and joy to my family and me."
The circus noticed a declined in attendance after the retirement of the elephants in May of 2015. Feld says that combined with high operating cost and prolonged battles with animal rights groups, they felt closing was the right thing to do, even though it was "a difficult business decision."
Animal rights groups like PETA and the Humane Society are rejoicing after this decision was made claiming that the public has changed. The Humane Society says "it's just not acceptable any longer to cart wild animals from city to city and have them perform silly yet coercive stunts."
Ringling Bros. World's Greatest Show was founded in Baraboo, Wis. in 1884 by five of the seven Rungeling brothers. The show was acquired by Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth in 1907, merging the two shoes in 1919.
The brothers started out modestly with skits and juggling routines, adding a trick horse and bear into their act by the end of their first season. The circus saw many ups and downs including the Great Depression of t he 1930s and a major fire in Hartford Connecticut in 1944 where the circus tents went up in flames.
While many activists would not associate Ringling Bros. with philanthropic work, it is true. In 1968 they established the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Clown College. Ringling Bros. participated in library reading programs, cancer research and a Circus Get-Fit program.
In 1995, they established the Center for Elephant Conservation in Florida, where they retired the elephants from their acts in 2015.
Every dog that was used in a show came from an animal shelter or were rescued from poor living conditions. They even participated in breeding programs for endangered species including the Bengal tiger, the Siberian tiger and Asian elephants.
The big top will go up for the last time on May 21, 2017 at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y. Closest to Guernsey County, the "Out of the Word" show can be seen in Philadelphia, Pa. Feb. 16 20 and the "Circus Extreme" show can be seen in Cincinnati, March 10-19.