After 146 years, Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus takes final bow

The Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus that wowed crowds for 146 years with its “Greatest Show on Earth” took its final bow.

The circus’ last show of three scheduled Sunday at the Nassau County Coliseum in Uniondale, New York, was sold out. However, it was broadcast live through the company’s Facebook and YouTube account starting at 7 p.m. ET.

Ringling’s parent company, Feld Entertainment, announced in January it would close the production, citing declining attendance and high operating costs.

Animal rights activists had targeted the circus, saying that forcing animals to perform and transporting them around the country amounted to abuse. And in May 2016, the company removed elephants from its shows, but ticket sales continued to decline.

Ringling Bros Closing

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey ringmaster Kristen Michelle Wilson is seen in January 2017, in Orlando, Fla. The circus’s last show was scheduled for Sunday at the Nassau County Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y. (Chris O’Meara/Associated Press)

‘Go out on top’

Feld Entertainment’s Kenneth Feld said Sunday that while he is melancholy about closing the production, he feels the performers are energized to “go out on top.”

He said the most difficult moment came when he and his family had to tell the performers in January.

Feld said they all have to “embrace change” and there is a love for the circus “that will never die.”

Feld’s father and uncle bought the circus in 1967. It was sold to Mattel in 1971, but the Feld family continued to manage the shows. The Felds bought the circus back in 1982.

Ringling Bros Closing

Police officers direct a parade of elephants across the street in New York in March 1955. The company removed elephants from its shows in May 2016. (Jacob Harris/Associated Press)

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