After 146 years of performances across the country, the famed Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus has decided to permanently close “The Greatest Show on Earth.” Kenneth Feld, the chief executive of Feld Entertainment, announced the news in a statement on the company’s website, citing a general ticket decline and the retirement of the circus’s touring elephants for the closure. “Ringling Bros. ticket sales have been declining, but following the transition of the elephants off the road, we saw an even more dramatic drop,” he explained. “This, coupled with high operating costs, made the circus an unsustainable business for the company.” Last May, all elephants were removed from the circus following significant criticism from animal-rights groups. All of the retired elephants currently live on a large conservation farm in Florida.
In an additional interview with the New York Times, Stephen Payne, a spokesperson for Feld Entertainment, said about 400 cast and crew members would be losing their jobs due to the closure. “We looked at the performance in 2016 and advance tickets sales in 2017,” he said, “and we decided it was not a viable business model.” Before Ringling officially shuts down in May, the two touring circuses will perform 30 shows across the country. Farewell, you mighty big tents.