By: Maisie Stout
The end of an entertainment era is occurring this spring with the permanent closing of The Ringling Bros. Circus. The circus was founded over a hundred years ago in Baraboo, Wisconsin and was family owned until it was sold to Feld Entertainment in 1967. The show has many acts including acrobatics, crazy stunts, but is just as famous for its many “tamed” animals (tigers and elephants).
The “greatest show on earth” is proving to be just the opposite as CEO Kenneth Feld admits that ticket sales for the Circus XTREME show have been declining for years due to a basic loss of interest. They experienced an even greater drop in sales when they terminated the use of elephants in their show. A few years ago criticism over the treatment of the elephants was reaching new heights, and Feld Entertainment pledged to stop using elephants in their shows. This promise was fulfilled May of 2016, and the eleven elephants that were in the show at the time are now resting peacefully in an elephant refuge center in Florida.
Many animals rights groups like PETA were grateful when the circus stopped using these endangered elephants in their show. However, other members of the circus loving community were disappointed because the elephant show was a favorite among many visitors. Although the animals rights groups played a part in the growing animosity of the circus, Felds claims that they are not the sole reason that the circus is closing. Felds also says that they will continue to travel to different cities and perform shows, but the last show will be in New York on May 21.
The circus has been coming to the Charleston Civic Center for many years and their last performances in West Virginia will be May 4 through May 7. The closing of the circus will also bring about the end of many family traditions of going to the circus. Our generation will be the last to experience the thrill and excitement of going to the circus.