“The Greatest Show on Earth” taking down the big top

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News began circulating Saturday night into Sunday morning regarding Feld Entertainment’s announcement that Ringling Bros. circus will cease performances in May 2017.

Animal advocacy organizations and advocates around the world are applauding the decision.

Kenneth Feld said in a statement on Saturday that “Ringling Bros. ticket sales have been declining, but following the transition of the elephants off the road, we saw an even more dramatic drop, this, coupled with high operating costs, made the circus an unsustainable business for the company.”

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced late Saturday that it would permanently end all of its performances this May after a 146-year run.

“There isn’t any one thing,” Kenneth Feld, chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment, told the Associated Press. “This has been a very difficult decision for me and for the entire family.”

His father, Irvin Feld, bought the circus in 1967, and it has been operated by the family-owned Feld Entertainment since. Today, the company has about 500 employees, who were informed Saturday night about the closure.

Kenneth Feld told the AP that it was becoming increasingly difficult to make a traveling circus viable and relevant in a world of modern entertainment. “Try getting a 3- or 4-year-old today to sit for 12 minutes,” he added, referring to the show’s 12-minute tiger act.

Ringling Bros. currently has two circus units: The final shows will be in Providence, Rhode Island, on May 7th, and in Uniondale, New York, on May 21. While the show retired its elephants last year, the circus still has a huge menagerie, including lions, tigers, camels, donkeys, alpacas, kangaroos and llamas, according to the Associated Press.

Juliette Feld, chief operating officer for Feld Entertainment, told the AP that homes will be found for the animals but that the company will continue operating the Center for Elephant Conservation in central Florida.

“We are all still in shock, said Lisa Ann Salamat, CEO, WildCat Conservation Legal Aid Society. I received word late last night via email and at first I thought, no, this can’t be right.

Public awareness and education about the reality of what is really involved with wild animals used in these venues certainly played an enormous behind the scenes role in this. It is always all about the money and finally the lack of it is making it all about ending an outdated form of entertainment that so many wild animals will never have to endure.” she added.

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