Sci-tech

After 146 years, The Circus Leaves Town

After 146 years, The Circus Leaves Town

There were jeers, cheers, and more than a few tears as the curtain fell on Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus' last-ever performance Sunday night.

In December, Ringling Bros named Kristen Michelle Wilson as the first female ringmaster in its 146-year history.

The final performance will be streamed live on YouTube and Facebook.

Although Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus left its Sarasota winter quarters in 1960, more than five dozen veteran performers, fans and families turned out for the grand finale.

"But while the show is over for that circus, there are still others that continue these same types of horrific abuse", says PETA Assistant Manager John Di Leonardo.

Ringling Bros was the last American circus that travelled by rail.

"Depending on where you sat, you would see a completely different show, it was that enormous", he said.

Ringling's absence leaves about 23 circuses on the road, of various size and format, in the United States today.

Owners of the company said the tough decision had been made due to falling ticket sales and high operating costs.

After phasing out the elephants, the decline in attendance was "greater than could have been anticipated", the company said. "This was one of the last nomadic tribes running around the country".

But the shows lost their appeal toward the end of the 20th century, CEO Kenneth Feld told the AP.

There were two final touring circuses.

A second unit of the traveling circus closed this month in Providence, R.I.

"All of the animals, including the [elephants] should be sent to reputable sanctuaries", she said.

Big cat trainer Alexander Lacey hugs one of the tigers.

"I try to display to the public the friendship I have with my animals", he said.

Owner Feld Entertainment announced earlier this year that the show would end its 146-year run in May.

Performer Ashley Vargas said she was proud to have been a part of such a historic show and among such talented people.

"I am sad that it's going to be over", said Melissa Angevine of Walton, New York. The Feld family purchased the company for $8 million in 1967 and then sold it to the Mattel Corporation for $40 million in 1971, before buying it back in 1984. "I've seen the big circuses close in Europe and now I'm seeing the big one close in America".

Like numerous show's 300 human performers, Vargas said, she plans to take a break before seeking out new opportunities, perhaps in Europe, where many of her castmates hail from.


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