The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has been in the news in recent years due to numerous allegations of animal abuse and cruelty of their elephants and other animal performers. Animal activists fought long and hard to ensure the animals be removed from the entertainment scene. ‘The Greatest Show on Earth’ is now closing its doors.

Efforts to protect elephants at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus

The public enjoys watching elephants, tigers, and other animals perform unique tricks in the circus but most are unaware of what an animal endures for entertainment purposes and monetary gain.

The animals were kept in conferment their entire lives, being chained up or caged. They had to suffer psychological and physical deprivation. These performers had to travel from location to location in boxcars with no climate control or clean conditions in which to eat and sleep. The animals were trained through extreme methods using whips, electric prods, and bullhooks. PETA crusaded against such animal cruelty that led to a victory in removing the abused performers from the circus scene. Ticket sales then dropped drastically. It is unclear what will happen to any of the remaining animals such as the tigers, horses, lions, dogs, and camels but a conference will be forthcoming to discuss the options.

The decision to shut down the circus after 146 years of family fun

The Feld family owned Ringling Bros. circus since 1967 when Irvin Feld bought it from John Ringling North for $8 million, and when Irvin passed on in 1984, his son, Kenneth took over as the CEO. After removal of the elephants back in May of 2016, Feld opted for other acts performed on ice and with special light effects, but ticket sales continued to decline.

Times have changed over the years after people become more educated on the treatment of animals in the entertainment business, supporting the efforts and victories of animal advocates. Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is scheduled to close in May of 2017.