Ringling-Barnum Big Top Down for Good

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May 21, 2017

The final curtain has come down on the nation's oldest circus.

The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus has closed after nearly 150 years of providing what was billed as the "Greatest Show on Earth."

Feld Entertainment, which owns the circus, announced in January 2017 that the circus would close and in May 2017 that elephants would no longer be part of the lineup.

The circus had two shows in its final season. The more traditional, three-ring variety had its final show in Providence, R.I., on May 7. The more futuristic circus spectacle, which was called "Out of the This World," had its final show in Uniondale, N.Y., on May 20.

Representatives from the Humane Society of the U.S. and from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) were not sad to see the circus shows end. Both had campaigned for many years to try to convince the circus to stop using animals altogether.

The circus began as separate entities and became one giant circus in 1907.

Feld's father, Irvin, bought the circus in 1967. His company, Feld Entertainment, has run the circus since then, with a brief ownership interlude by the toymaker Mattel from 1971 to 1982.

Feld Entertainment also produces Disney On Ice and motor sports entertainment, such as Monster Jam and Supercross. Feld's other offerings include live theater shows, many featuring Mickey Mouse or Winnie the Pooh, and Broadway plays and musicals.

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David White