“After much evaluation and deliberation, my family and I have made the difficult business decision,” Kenneth Feld stated, chairman and CEO of Feld Entertainment, the company that produces the Ringling Bros.
“Ticket sales have been declining, but following the transition of the elephants off the road, we saw an even more dramatic drop. This, coupled with high operating costs, made the circus an unsustainable business for the company.”
In 2016, following demands from animal rights groups, Ringling Bros. Removed elephants from the traveling production and placed the elephants in a Florida reservation.
Both of Ringling Bros. current tours, ‘Circus XTREME and Out of This World’, will make 30 more stops between Saturday’s announcement as well as the May finale.
Ringling Bros. was founded in Baraboo, Wisconsin, in 1884 by five of the seven Ringling brothers; in 1919, the touring circus united with P.T. Barnum and James Anthony Bailey’s. This is where the name of the circus was generated. The Feld family purchased the circus in 1967 and sold it to toymaker Mattel for a decade before purchasing it back in 1984.
“Nearly 50 years ago, my father founded our company with the acquisition of Ringling Bros. The circus and its people have continually been a source of inspiration and joy to my family and me, which is why this was such a tough business decision to make,” Feld stated.
“The decision was even more difficult because of the amazing fans that have become part of our extended circus family over the years, and we are extremely grateful to the millions of families who have made Ringling Bros. part of their lives for generations. We know Ringling Bros. isn’t only our family business, but also your family tradition.”
Like Sea World, which has seen its attendance decline following an outcry from animal rights group, Ringling Bros. has been criticized for the treatment of their animals.
In 2011, Feld consented to pay a $270,000 fine to the US Department of Agriculture for alleged breaches of the Animal Welfare Act, CNN reports.
Both PETA and the Humane Society observed the forthcoming closing of Ringling Bros. Click here to browse Ringling Brothers Circus tickets.
“As of May, the saddest show on earth for wild animals will end. Thirty-six years of PETA protests, of documenting animals left to die, beaten animals, and much more, has reduced attendance to the point of no return,” PETA wrote in a press release.
“All other animal circuses, roadside zoos, and wild animal exhibitors, including marine amusement parks like SeaWorld and the Miami Seaquarium, must take note: society has changed, eyes have been opened, people know now who these animals are, and we know it is wrong to capture and exploit them.”
CEO of the Human Society Wayne Pacelle said in a statement, “It’s just not acceptable any longer to cart wild animals from city to city and have them perform silly yet coercive stunts. I know this is bittersweet for the Feld family, but I applaud their decision to move away from an institution grounded on inherently inhumane wild animal acts.”